Turkish state lender Ziraat set to buy Uzbek UTBANK
Turkish state lender Ziraat Bank, a partner in Uzbekistan’s first foreign bank, UTBANK, aims to grow its investments in the country by purchasing the remaining shares and rebranding the bank, Ziraat Bank said on Oct. 24.
Half of UTBANK’s shares belong to the Ziraat Finance Group and the other 50 percent belongs to Agrobank, which serves the agricultural sector in Uzbekistan, İlker Met, the head of Ziraat Bank’s Enterprise Architecture Group, told Anadolu Agency.
Since its establishment, UTBANK has contributed to the development of foreign trade and production between the two countries, he said.
A preliminarily agreement was signed for Ziraat Bank to buy UTBANK’s shares now held by Agrobank, Met said.
“After the agreement, we are working to complete the share transfer in a short order and plan to get into Uzbekistan in 2018 under the brand ‘Ziraat Bank-Uzbekistan,’” he added.
“Factors such as Uzbekistan’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ease of exports among the Commonwealth of Independent States, the incentives to producers in the country, and the rich agricultural and underground resources show the importance of Uzbekistan, which is already a significant part of the Silk Road,” he said.
Direct investments in Uzbekistan from Turkey have reached nearly $1 billion, a figure expected to rise in the future, Met noted.
Economic relations between Uzbekistan and Turkey will be at a level that meet expectations with the efforts of both countries, said Hayri Kartopu, the Turkish co-chair of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Turkey-Uzbekistan Business Council.
Kartopu said the existing bilateral trade volume falls short of the potential between the two countries.
“In order to increase bilateral trade and investment with respect to mutual interests, it is important to facilitate the issuing of visas and work permits, boost the number of flights, tackle road transport problems, develop banking legislation, and make free and preferential trade agreements,” he said.
Ziraat, established in 1863, employs more than 20,000 people in 1,812 branches in Turkey and in 18 foreign countries, including Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., Georgia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Bahrain, Montenegro, and Azerbaijan, according to its website.