September 11, 2014

Bank Asya seeks restart of suspended trading

Turkish Islamic lender Bank Asya, whose shares were suspended and removed from all indices on Aug. 7 amid political pressure, will ask the authorities to end a month-long trading suspension, a top bank official said on Tuesday.

Wall Street Journal Turkey quoted Bank Asya CEO Ahmet Beyaz as saying that the bank asked the benchmark index Borsa İstanbul (BIST) for a restart of its share trading. Beyaz also said the bank sought an explanation as to why the bank's capital structure had been deemed “ambiguous.”

“Our share trading was suspended after authorities cited what they called an ambiguous partnership structure within the bank. … We were not told what exactly is ambiguous or uncertain,” Beyaz said. Beyaz's statement come on the heels of reports in the media last week that Turkey's banking watchdog the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) had put Bank Asya under close monitoring. The reports claimed this would give the BDDK the power to restrict or temporarily halt Bank Asya's operations. The BDDK declined to comment on the issue, while Bank Asya said it will file a lawsuit against the watchdog for “remaining indifferent to a smear campaign against the bank.” [Editor's Note: BDDK later denied news reports: BDDK says its official didn't speak to media on Bank Asya]

The bank has been under intense government pressure since December last year. Last month, the government cancelled tax collection and social security contracts with Bank Asya, a move seen by observers as an attempt to weaken the lender. The state-run Ziraat Bank abandoned talks to acquire Bank Asya last month. The bank also attempted earlier this year to form a strategic partnership with Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), but sources said that QIB and Bank Asya had ended the talks after a price disagreement. Beyaz said that QIB was given a green light from the BDDK to commence talks with Bank Asya but the talks failed and the BDDK asked Bank Asya to seek alternative partners. “The talks began in March. However, the watchdog did not want us to proceed. We had to scrap talks with QIB and start negotiations with Ziraat. This attempt failed too after the state bank changed its mind,” he said.

Beyaz also told WSJ Turkey that Bank Asya would consider selling stakes or subsidiaries in case of a capital adequacy problem.

Published on Cihan, 09 September 2014, Tuesday

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