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Bank Audi Gets First Turkish Banking Permit in 12 Years

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Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s banking regulator gave a license to Lebanon’s Bank Audi Sal-Audi Saradar Group to set up a bank, the first such permission in more than a decade.

The Beirut-based lender is authorized to collect deposits in Turkey through a bank that will have $300 million in capital, according to a decision published in the Official Gazette in Ankara today.

Turkey hasn’t awarded a new banking license since a financial crisis in 2001 saw the number of lenders drop to 61 at the start of 2002 from 81 two years earlier. The total cost of re-capitalizing the bank industry and higher inflation was about $160 billion, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said on the 10th anniversary of the crisis on Feb. 21. Turkish banks survived the latest global upheaval without any government bailouts.

“It’s an important thing that there’s investment in Turkish banking at a time when risks for the global system are rising,” Tevfik Bilgin, head of the banking regulator that issued the license, said in a telephone interview. “Bringing capital of $300 million is an important signal too; it’s 15 times the minimum capital and sets a psychological benchmark for others who may want to enter the system.”

Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA bought a 25 percent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS for $5.8 billion last year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ali Berat Meric in Ankara at americ@bloomberg.net; Steve Bryant in Ankara at sbryant5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Louis Meixler at lmeixler@bloomberg.net.

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