Turkey Regulator Investigates 12 Banks on Interest Rates

Turkey’s antitrust regulator started an investigation into 12 banks on suspicion of collaborating in setting rates on loans and deposits.

The investigation involves a possible breach of regulations that protect competition, a spokesman for the regulator in Ankara said on the usual condition of anonymity by phone today.

The probe involves possible breaches by Akbank TAS (AKBNK), Denizbank AS (DENIZ), Finansbank AS, HSBC Bank AS and ING Bank AS. The regulator is also investigating Turk Ekonomi Bankasi AS (TEBNK), Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS (HALKB), Turkiye Is Bankasi (ISATR) AS, Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi TAO (VAKBN), Yapi & Kredi Bankasi AS and TC Ziraat Bankasi AS, according to a statement on its website today.

The probe may be completed within a year, CNBC-e television said citing Nurettin Kaldirimci, chief of the regulator.

“Even if banks are not fined in the end, the investigation process, because of uncertainty it creates, may cause some overhang on banking stocks,” Hakan Aygun, an analyst at Ata Invest in Istanbul, said in an e-mailed report to investors today.

The board fined seven banks 72.3 million liras ($39 million) for uncompetitive practices in payroll promotions in March. That fine, already paid with a reduction though currently in legal appeal, equated to 0.4 percent of banks’ revenue, Aygun said. The maximum percentage of the fine in the probe announced today could be 10 percent of revenue, he said.

The banking index in Istanbul fell 2 percent to 105,368.9 at 2:05 p.m. Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN) slid 1.6 percent to 6.12 liras. Akbank TAS, part-owned by Citigroup Inc., fell 2.5 percent to 6.24 liras. The main ISE National 100 share index dropped 1.7 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aydan Eksin in Istanbul at aeksin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Aydan Eksin at aeksin@bloomberg.net

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