Halkbank focuses on regional growth

Halkbank focuses on regional growth

Halkbank focuses on regional growth

Süleyman Aslan of Halkbank, says the lender is looking for acquisitions abroad. Company photo

While state-owned Halkbank is preparing to take over another Turkish bank’s Skopje branch and open a new Belgrade branch, it is also aiming to deepen banking ties with Gulf countries via its Bahrain branch, its top executive said yesterday.

“We are currently preparing to take over the Skopje branch of Ziraat Bank and open a new branch in Belgrade to extend our banking operations in Balkan countries,” said Süleyman Aslan, the general manager of Halkbank, at a press meeting in Istanbul. “We are aiming to grow in the Balkan countries as well as in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, through our offshore branch in Bahrain.”

Halkbank has 766 domestic branches, five foreign branches in Northern Cyprus, an offshore branch in Bahrain and a representative office in Tehran. Previously, Aslan had signaled the continuation of the lender’s role in the payment of India’s debts to Iran. “There has been no further development on that issue,” he said, in response to a Daily News question about whether the bank is under pressure from the U.S. or European Union regarding its role in money transfers to pay for Turkey’s oil purchases from Iran, and transferring Indian payments to Turkey’s eastern neighbor.

Halkbank’s net profit rose by 1.7 percent to 2.45 billion Turkish Liras, from 2.04 billion liras last year. The lender’s charge and commission income increased by 38 percent, while the Turkish banking sector average remained at 15 percent last year. In the last quarter of 2011, Halkbank’s net income rose by 0.9 percent to 504 million liras, from 500 million liras.

The lender’s cash credits rose by 26.9 percent to 56.1 billion liras last year, from 44.29 billion liras in the previous year. The volume of consumer credit increased to 15.09 billion liras last year, from 11.47 billion liras; commercial credits rose by 25.3 percent to 17.84 billion liras in 2011, from 12.72 billion liras in the previous year.

“We will still control the credit growth around 25 percent, as we totally understand the potential risks due to the current account deficit,” Aslan said.

The bank aims for a credit growth rate of 18 percent and to increase its deposits by 10 percent this year, Aslan said. He also revealed the lender is planning to found a factoring affiliate and offer the shares of Halk Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in 2012.

Addressing journalists, Aslan said the bank plans to open 60 branches across the country and employ 1,000 people. He noted that the bank plans to bring all its Istanbul management buildings together in the Ataşehir district of the city, in line with the Turkish government’s bid to construct a finance center bigger than the world’s largest finance centers in New York, London and Dubai.