MONEY OWED

BANKS FILE TO ACQUIRE TURK TELEKOM STAKE TO RECOVER OGER DEBT

Dünya Executive - - OVERVIEW -

Three Turkish banks have applied to the Competitio­n Authority (RK) to take over the majority of shares in Turk Telekom due to unpaid debts by its parent company, Saudi Oger. The applicatio­n for the takeover through a special-purpose entity was made public by the RK on its website, Reuters reports. Turk Telekom said in a statement that it had received no informatio­n on the acquisitio­n.

Oger Telecommun­ications, owned by Lebanon’s Hariri family, had used a 55 percent stake in Turk Telekom as a guarantee for a loan of $4.75 billion in 2013. However, it failed to repay its installmen­ts. As a result, Akbank, Garanti Bank and Is Bank, the three biggest private banks in the country, are seeking the shares as compensati­on. BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank have also extended loans to Oger Telecom.

In addition to the 55 percent of shares owned by Oger, the Turkish Treasury has a 25 percent stake in Turk Telekom, while a 5 percent stake is owned by the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and 15 percent is traded on the stock market.

Some companies in Turkey are struggling to repay their foreign currency debts after the lira slumped against the dollar, forcing banks to restructur­e some of the debt. The credits are part of a stockpile of more than $220 billion in foreign currency debt owed by corporates that are also weighing on Turkey’s credit rating. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have highlighte­d the risks posed to the country’s economy, cutting Turkish sovereign debt deeper into junk over recent months.

Billionair­e Ferit Sahenk’s Dogus Holding AS, which operates restaurant­s, including a steak chain and socialmedi­a phenomenon Salt Bae, last month asked lenders to restructur­e as much as $2.5 billion. Yildiz Holding AS, owner of Godiva chocolates and McVitie’s snacks, said this month it agreed with banks to reorganize $5.5 billion of loans through a new four-year facility that has can be extended by another four years.

Joint ventures with internatio­nal partners are also being affected. Italian energy firm Ansaldo Energia SpA and Turkish businessma­n Unal Aysal’s Unit Investment are said to have started talks to restructur­e $700 million. Italian builder Astaldi SpA and Turkey’s IC Holding AS are also said to be in talks with the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. to refinance a $2.3 billion loan from 2013.

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