Pro-Gülen Islamic lender denies ending sales talks with Qatari bank
Bank Asya said in March that it had started talks on a strategic partnership with QIB and planned to complete the process soon.Turkish Islamic lender Bank Asya, which has been the subject of focus due to its owner’s known links with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, has ruled out reports of ending share sales talks with Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB).
Several reports on July 2 claimed Bank Asya and the QIB have ended exclusive talks regarding the QIB acquiring a stake in the Turkish lender after failing to agree on price. Citing four sources close to the matter, Reuters said concerns regarding its value were thought to be behind the decision.
However, in a statement released at the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP), Bank Asya denied ending the talks, saying “the reported news in some media outlets claiming the negotiations have been ended don’t reflect the truth.”
Bank Asya said in March that it had started talks on a strategic partnership with QIB and planned to complete the process soon.
Bank Asya’s founders include sympathizers of Gülen, a former ally of Erdoğan who has become his bitter rival, and state-owned companies and institutional depositors loyal to Erdoğan have withdrawn 4 billion Turkish Liras ($1.8 billion), or some 20 percent of the bank’s total deposits, according to Turkish media reports earlier this year.
The Reuters report also quoted sources claiming Turkish state-run bank Ziraat Bank may now be the most likely partner for Bank Asya, but the two banks have not officially begun negotiations.
Daily Hürriyet columnist Erdal Sağlam had also reported last month that Ziraat may be interested in buying Bank Asya as part of its plans to enter the Islamic banking sector.
Ziraat Bank officials had told Sağlam there had not yet been any official attempts to move toward Bank Asya, but they did not deny the possibility of such an acquisition either.
Ziraat is one of the three state-owned banks planning to open up a participation bank to offer interest-free financial services.
Bank Asya has been under pressure to sell assets, the sources told Reuters, after being hit by the power struggle between supporters of Erdoğan and Gülen.
On July 1, Bank Asya announced it has moved to sell assets worth around 133 million liras, including a symbolically important facility that previously hosted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meetings.