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Turkish Banks Retreat Most in Month on Antitrust Investigation

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Turkish banking index dropped the most in a month as the country’s antitrust regulator announced a probe into possible collusion among lenders on setting interest rates.

The index fell for a sixth day, the longest losing streak since May 2010, retreating 3.9 percent to 103,334.7 at the close in Istanbul, the biggest slide since Oct. 20. The ISE National 100 Index fell 3.2 percent to 52,752.15.

The Turkish Competition Authority in Ankara said today it was starting an investigation into 12 banks on suspicion of collaborating in setting rates on loans and deposits. The banking regulator said it had not observed any collusion in rates, according to Bloomberg Haberturk Television.

Stocks in Turkey have retreated along with global markets on concerns about Europe’s debt crisis, while the probe into banks and rising tensions with Turkey’s neighbor Syria have “intensified the selling pressure,” according to Ata Doganoglu, a trader at Ekspres Invest in Istanbul.

Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, the country’s biggest bank by market value, led losses by index points, falling 3.9 percent to 5.98 liras. Yapi & Kredi Bankasi AS, the bank part-owned by UniCredit SpA, dropped 5.5 percent to 2.92 liras, while Turkiye Is Bankasi AS, the biggest listed bank by assets, fell 4.6 percent to 3.72 liras. Of 16 banks on the index, 15 fell and 1 was unchanged.

The antitrust regulator’s investigation involves possible breaches by Akbank TAS, Denizbank AS, Finansbank AS, HSBC Bank AS and ING Bank AS. It is also investigating Turk Ekonomi Bankasi AS, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, Turkiye Is Bankasi AS, Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi TAO, Yapi & Kredi Bankasi AS and TC Ziraat Bankasi AS, according to a statement on the regulator’s website today.

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul at bharvey11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net

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