Finansbank Seen as Target for QNB Seeking Top Turkey Bank

Finansbank AS, owned by National Bank of Greece SA, will probably be a target for Qatar National Bank SAQ as the Middle East’s biggest lender studies buying one of Turkey’s top 10 banks, analysts said. The share surged.

“QNB wants a controlling stake in Turkey and there’s no other bank than Finansbank at the moment where it could get that,” Ovunc Gursoy, analyst at Yapi Kredi Yatirim Menkul Degerler, a broker owned by Italy’s UniCredit SpA, said by telephone from Istanbul yesterday. “NBG could sell a majority stake due to its capital needs.”

Qatar National is expanding outside the Gulf to widen its margins, agreeing to pay $1.97 billion for a majority stake in the Egyptian unit of France’s Societe Generale SA this month. Greek banks face shortfalls in capital after sustaining losses on their holdings of government bonds in the country’s debt swap, the biggest sovereign restructuring in history.

Finansbank, Turkey’s eighth-biggest bank, surged as much as 11 percent in Istanbul, the most since Dec. 5. The shares, 0.2 percent of which are traded on the exchange, rose 7.2 percent to

3.57 liras at the close, valuing Finansbank at 9.6 billion liras ($5.4 billion). The price to book ratio, used by potential buyers as a guide to a company’s worth, is 1.36 compared with an average 1.62 for Turkey’s listed banks.

Expansion Plans

QNB wants a presence in Turkey and may target stakes in its major banks, Ramzi Mari, the group’s chief financial officer, said on Dec. 13. NBG might sell a minority stake in Finansbank to help strengthen its capital position, chief executive officer Apostolos Tamvakakis said in April.

National Bank’s investor relations department in Athens declined to comment on any plan to sell Finansbank in an e-mailed response to questions.

Foreign lenders are seeking to boost their presence in Turkey with acquisitions and licenses, attracted by rising profit and growth in loans. Net income across the industry expanded 17 percent annually to 17.1 billion liras in the first nine months. Loans increased 14 percent to 787 billion liras in the year to Dec. 7, banking regulator data showed.

Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA and Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsibushi UFJ Ltd. are in the late stages of their license applications, the industry regulator in Ankara said last week. Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA bought a 25 percent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, the largest bank by market value, for $5.8 billion last year.

‘Good Offer’

“Finansbank is a lender QNB would be interested in,” Cagdas Dogan, analyst at TEB Investment, part-owned by France’s BNP Paribas SA, said in a phone interview. “It looks like the owners would think about selling in the event of a good offer. QNB would use the situation to pull the price down and buy a majority stake.”

OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, defeated QNB in a bid for Turkey’s Denizbank AS in June, paying owner Dexia SA

6.47 billion liras. Denizbank is ranked 10th among Turkish banks in terms of its assets, according to data from the Banks’ Association of Turkey.

Dubai-based Emirates NBD PJSC, which agreed to buy the Egyptian unit of France’s BNP Paribas SA for $500 million yesterday, is another Middle East-based bank expressing an interest in Turkey.

“If the right assets were to come up, yes, we would be looking at Turkey as well,” Kevin Flannery, Emirates NBD’s general manager for international business, said by telephone yesterday.

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