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Halkbank Said to Approach Advisers on Pension Fund Unit Sale

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, the largest state-run lender in Turkey, approached advisers for the sale of its Halk Hayat & Emeklilik AS private pension fund and life-insurance unit, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Halkbank, as the lender is known, owns 94 percent of the business and may divest it next year, the people said, asking not to be named because the plan isn’t public. Halkbank will hire banks for the sale once it has received an exemption from Ankara, Turkey-based government agency OIB, which is usually responsible for selling state assets, one of the people said.

Halkbank declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg today. “Work on assessing different options in the area of insurance is continuing,” Halkbank said in a statement to Borsa Istanbul on Sept. 28.

Halk Emeklilik has 293 million liras ($144 million) of assets under management, or 1.2 percent of total funds managed by 17 firms licensed by the government in the private pension industry, according to Pension Monitoring Center data.

Halkbank turned its life unit, Birlik Hayat Sigorta AS, into a private pension manager in 2010 and renamed it Hayat & Emeklilik.

Halkbank fell 0.3 percent to 15.20 liras as of 5:45 p.m. in Istanbul trading.

Turkey announced an incentive package in January in which the government will match 25 percent of private pension contributions up to the minimum wage level to boost savings. Turkey, which has a pension fund industry equivalent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product compared with a weighted average of 77 percent among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members, has attracted international pension fund managers including Groupama SA, Cigna Corp., Zurich Insurance Group AG and Allianz SE.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net; Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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