April 28, 2015

Bank Asya calls for return of management control of shares

Bank Asya, Turkey's largest Islamic lender, announced on Tuesday that it has sent documents regarding 94 percent of all shareholders to the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), suggesting that the pretext for a takeover of the bank's shares has vanished.

The banking watchdog had previously taken over management control of the majority of the bank's privileged shares, citing the absence of shareholder information.

Lawyer Süleyman Taşbaş, representing the 94 privileged shareholders who previously had the right to nominate Bank Asya board members, told the Bugün daily on Tuesday that the bank is demanding an immediate return of control of the bank's shares.

“The BDDK is prolonging the proceedings on purpose although the shares in Bank Asya rightfully deserved to be returned to shareholders. … They [BDDK] had cited the lack of documents for the takeover; now all the requirements have been met and the bank is under an unlawful siege,” Taşbaş asserted.

The bank's lawyers had argued that the BDDK should have relinquished control of the bank when 51 percent of shareholders had submitted the documents as of April 10. Taşbaş said on Tuesday there is no excuse left for the BDDK to drag its heels over Bank Asya.

The banking watchdog on Feb. 3 handed management control of 63 percent of Bank Asya's privileged shares over to state savings fund, citing insufficient transparency to allow for proper regulation. Bank Asya's management and shareholders, however, denied the existence of flaws in the bank's transparency and said the decision was a government-orchestrated bid to sink the lender.

Following an announcement from the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) that it would take over the majority of the bank's stock and appoint a new board of directors, Bank Asya clients stood in long lines outside numerous branches across the country in a show of support for the bank. Many of the bank's customers reportedly sold belongings, including items such as furniture and wedding rings, and deposited the money into their accounts.

Bank Asya shareholders lodged a complaint with the banking watchdog, accusing it of damaging the financial interests of the shareholders and vowing to take legal action seeking TL 94 million as compensation for the takeover.

Separate international credit rating agencies and opposition figures earlier warned that the attempt to sink Bank Asya would be very harmful for the economy, noting that the Islamic lender has a strong deposit structure.

Published on Today's Zaman, 28 April 2015, Tuesday