Emboldened by $5.2 bln Brazil deal, HSBC ‘drags feet in Turkey’

Emboldened by $5.2 bln Brazil deal, HSBC ‘drags feet in Turkey’

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Emboldened by $5.2 bln Brazil deal, HSBC ‘drags feet in Turkey’


HSBC is dragging its feet on the sale of its Turkish business to ING Group, two sources familiar with the matter said, as the bank is no longer in a hurry to exit Turkey after securing a hefty $5.2 billion for its Brazilian unit.

Reuters reported last month that HSBC was set to announce the sale of its loss-making Turkish operation to Dutch lender ING for between $700 million and $750 million, as part of a global drive to cut costs and assets, boost profitability and reduce complexity.

But after agreeing to sell its Brazilian business to Banco Bradesco for a higher-than-expected 17.6 billion reals ($5.2 billion), HSBC appears to be taking a slower tack on its Turkish sale, the sources said on Aug. 28.
“The sale of the Brazilian unit at a good price reduced the urgent pressure for the sale of the Turkish unit,” one source said.

“HSBC does not want to lose ING’s interest, but by completing the sale ... in another country at a higher multiple to guarantee putting $5 billion in its coffers, it has lessened the pressure and desire to exit Turkey rapidly at a lower multiple.”

The other source said, “The process is continuing but the details are taking longer than had been thought.”
HSBC did not immediately return requests for comment. A spokeswoman for ING said the company could not comment.

Qatar National Bank, which had shown some preliminary interest in the Turkish assets, may be showing interest again, one of the sources said. The other source, however, said ING remained the only contender.

Acquiring HSBC’s business would allow ING to roughly double its around $15 billion of assets in Turkey, putting it on better footing in a highly competitive market.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, has around 300 retail branches and corporate and investment banking operations in Turkey. The Turkish business lost $64 million last year after a $155 million hit at its retail arm after regulatory changes capped interest rates on credit cards and overdrafts.

Yet Turkey remains an attractive market for some lenders by virtue of its young population and geographic position between Europe and Asia.

ING was one of three banks to submit a non-binding bid in May, sources previously said. The others were Bahrain’s Arab Banking Corp (ABC) and France’s BNP Paribas.

An acquisition would mark a return to the takeover trail for ING, which expanded internationally with a series of deals over two decades before needing to be rescued by the Dutch government at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.