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Turkey Sells Rights to Operate Roads for $5.7 Billion

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(Corrects order of bidder elimination in 10th paragraph.)

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey sold 25-year operating rights for about 2,000 kilometers of toll roads, two beltways and two bridges over the Bosporus Strait for $5.7 billion, the second-biggest state asset sale in Turkish history.

A consortium made up of Koc Holding AS, Turkey’s biggest group of companies, Istanbul-based Gozde Girisim Sermayesi Yatirim Ortakligi AS and Malaysia’s UEM Group Bhd won the rights to operate the bridges and roadways in an auction in Ankara today.

Koc Holding rose 4.4 percent to 9.12 liras at the close in Istanbul trading, the highest since at least 1995. Gozde, the venture capital unit of Yildiz Holding, owner of the Godiva chocolate brand, surged 11 percent to 4.48 liras, the highest since October last year.

“The winners looked happy - it seems the price was less than they expected,” Hasan Bayhan, an analyst at Istanbul-based Global Securities, said by phone after the sale.

The transaction trails the $6.55 billion sale of a 55 percent stake in land-line phone operator Turk Telekomunikasyon AS in 2005 as Turkey’s biggest. The sale of oil refiner Tupras Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS the same year, also to Koc Holding, earned $4.14 billion for the government.

Koc and UEM each have a 40 percent stake in today’s winning consortium, while Gozde’s stake is 20 percent.

The sale will require separate approvals from Turkey’s Privatization Administration, Competition Board and the Council of State.

“I don’t think the Council of State will reach a negative opinion,” Osman Ilter, deputy chief of the asset sales agency, told Bloomberg after the auction.

The transaction may be completed within “five to six months at the latest,” Tamer Hasimoglu, Koc Holding’s retail, food and tourism group chairman, told reporters in Ankara.

The consortium beat two others, with Nurol Holding, Alsim Alarko, Kalyon Insaat and Fernas Insaat withdrawing first. Autostrade Per I’Italia, Dogus Holding, Makyol Insaat and Akfen withdrew in a later round.

Financing shouldn’t be a problem for the winning group, according to Cenk Ercan, an analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc in Istanbul.

“We’re talking about a tender that was postponed four times, so the group is well-prepared regarding financing,” Orcan said by telephone today. “This is a very foreseeable and long-term asset. Financing will be easy.”

Turkey raised $2.5 billion last month with the sale of a 24 percent state in state-run lender Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS in a secondary public offering. Fitch Ratings upgraded Turkey on Nov. 5, giving the country its first investment-grade rating since 1994.

To contact the reporters on this story: Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.net; Ali Berat Meric in Ankara at americ@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net