Spain’s BBVA seeking another Turkish lender to buy: CEO

Spain’s BBVA seeking another Turkish lender to buy: CEO

Hülya Güler - ISTANBUL
Spain’s BBVA seeking another Turkish lender to buy: CEO Spain’s BBVA, which has a majority stake in Turkey’s Garanti Bank, is looking to buy another bank in the country, BBVA chief Carlos Torres Vila has said. 

BBVA is not actively in talks as there are no banks for sale, but Turkey is a strategic market, he said. “We want to grow in Turkey. We want to acquire another lender that will bring value to Garanti.”

BBVA, which already owned a stake in Garanti, acquired an additional 14.89 percent of Doğuş Group’s stake in the bank last year to become the biggest stakeholder in the lender at 39.90 percent. 

“We are very happy with our Garanti decision in Turkey. Turkey is of great importance for us in the long term as it has great economic potential. Therefore, we are evaluating new acquisition opportunities in the Turkish market just as we are in other markets where we have activities,” he said. 

Torres Vila said they would assess any opportunity when it arises as the Turkish banking industry was quite developed, especially in the field of digital operations. 

BBVA was earlier reported to be interested in buying a stake in Turkey’s Finansbank, which was then owned by the National Bank of Greece (NBG). However, Qatar National Bank bid 2.7 billion euros for the lender last year and recently said it had received regulatory approval for the purchase.

Garanti tops digital banking 

Torres Vila said the BBVA Group, which has over 66 million customers in 35 countries, has around 3.1 million digital banking customers, around half of whom are from Turkey. 

“Garanti Bank has around 1.6 million digital banking customers. Garanti is a crucial part of our group’s digital transformation strategy,” he said. 

The BBVA head said the global banking sector had faced a dramatic transformation with the development of new solutions through mainly financial technology – dubbed “fintech” – companies. 

“The world has now been talking about negative interest rates,” he said. “At the end of the day, our main job is to keep all of our customers’ money safe and to help them manage their financial needs. Thanks to the latest technologies, this can be achieved more easily and at lower costs.”

Fuat Erbil was appointed as the new CEO after the BBVA Group became the main shareholder in Garanti, replacing Ergun Özen. The new CEO was one of seven directors to be appointed by BBVA in a board of 10 members. Özen is continuing as board director.