Turkey

European Bank for Reconstruction & Development will present a set of proposals to Turkish authorities and banks on Friday on how to overcome the nation’s bad-debt predicament, Bloomberg News reported. The London-based lender is suggesting that the definition of non-performing loans be updated in line with those of the European Banking Authority and that guidance be given on how banks value and manage collateral for credit. It is also urging that a longer-term solution be put in place on how troubled debt is restructured.

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Turkish regulators and bankers are meeting this week to try to hammer out a regulatory tweak that would make it easier for foreign investors to buy some of the tens of billions of dollars worth of soured loans left over from last year’s crisis., Reuters reported. According to five people familiar with the effort, the BDDK banking watchdog and Capital Markets Board aim to draft changes that could remove the last hurdle to Turkish banks selling non-performing loans (NPLs) to hungry foreign buyers.

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Exclusive talks between the U.K.’s Insolvency Service and Turkey’s Ataer Holdings about a sale for British Steel have ended without a deal, Bloomberg News reported. The official receiver for the company, who is managing the sale, will hold discussions with other parties and the potential buyers are expected to visit British Steel sites in the coming days, the insolvency service said on Wednesday. Talks with Ataer, which co-owns steelmakers in Turkey, are continuing as well.

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A Turkish group’s acquisition of British Steel depends on lowering the cost of contracts the U.K.’s No. 2 steelmaker holds with its suppliers, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. Oyak Group, which manages military pensions, entered exclusive talks in August to buy British Steel, the first step in a rescue that could save about 5,000 jobs in the U.K.’s manufacturing heartland.

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Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Turkish state-owned lender Halkbank with a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, ramping up pressure on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he conducts a military offensive on Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported. Prosecutors say some Turkish and Iranian government officials received payouts of tens of millions of dollars in exchange for promoting and helping to conceal the alleged scheme, which occurred between 2012 and 2016.

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Turkey’s finance minister said on Monday that steps taken by the government would give banks a “clean slate” to begin lending again, but bankers and analysts said Ankara needed to do more to understand the extent of the mess and to finally clear it up, Reuters reported. Two senior bankers said that big lenders may not completely abide Ankara’s most aggressive move so far: a directive two weeks ago for banks to reclassify as non-performing loans (NPLs) some 46 billion lira ($8.2 billion) in debt.

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The IMF sharply increased its forecast for Turkey’s economic growth this year but warned the prospects of a sustainable recovery from last year’s currency crisis have dimmed, the Financial Times reported. In a concluding statement on Monday published after an annual visit by IMF staff, the fund revised its forecast for full-year GDP growth in 2019 from -2.5 per cent to 0.25 per cent. “Growth has rebounded, aided by policy stimulus and favourable market conditions, following the sharp lira depreciation and associated recession in late-2018,” it said.

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Turkey forced banks to take losses on $8 billion in bad loans this week to kick-start lending and boost its economic recovery after losing patience with them, bankers, senior government officials and industry advisers told Reuters. Ankara’s most aggressive move yet to cure a hangover from Turkey’s 2018 currency crisis has left banks scrambling to meet a year-end deadline to restructure loans or ready them for sale, Reuters reported.

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A group of Turkish banks hired Morgan Stanley as financial adviser to sell their 55% stake in the country’s largest phone company, Turk Telekomunikasyon AS, Bloomberg News reported. The carrier’s shares rose more than 4%. The three banks -- Turkiye Is Bankasi AS, Akbank TAS and Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS -- took control of Turk Telekom in December, setting it up for a likely sale after previous owner Otas defaulted on a multi-billion-dollar loan.

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Turkey took its boldest step yet to clean up the growing pile of bad debt held by banks, Bloomberg News reported. The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BDDK, told lenders for the first time to reclassify 46 billion liras ($8.1 billion) of loans as non-performing by the end of the year and set aside enough provisions to cover them, it said in a statement late Tuesday. The reclassification of the loans, mostly to construction and energy firms, will bring the industry’s non-performing loan ratio to 6.3% this year, slightly higher than the watchdog’s December prediction of 6%.

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