Turkey Seeks to Lure Foreign Companies to $326 Billion Bourse

Turkey’s stock exchange is seeking the help of brokerages to attract foreign companies to list as the nation works toward becoming a global financial hub.

Borsa Istanbul signed agreements with eight companies today as part of its “ListingIstanbul” initiative, under which it will solicit the help of partners to lure new listings from 45 countries. Turkey’s National All-Shares Index has a market value of $326 billion, compared with $830 billion for South Africa’s FTSE/JSE Africa All Shares Index and $439 billion on Singapore’s Straits Times Index, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The listing push comes amid plans by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to boost Turkey’s regional status and make the economy one of the world’s 10 biggest by 2023. Only one foreign company, Do & Co AG, a Turkish Airlines catering partner, now trades in Turkey out of 332 listings, Borsa Istanbul data show. Foreign companies make up 79 percent of London’s stock exchange and 8 percent of Singapore’s bourse.

“An international financial center implies companies from other countries coming to your market as well,” Borsa Istanbul Chairman Ibrahim Turhan said at a press conference today. The listing program is part of a plan that may lead the exchange to sell shares in an initial public offering by late 2015, he said.

‘Good Idea’

Borsa Istanbul, which replaced the 28-year-old Istanbul Stock Exchange on April 5, includes the Istanbul Gold Exchange and the Izmir-based Derivatives Exchange.

The exchange signed deals with brokerages including PhillipCapital Menkul Degerler AS, the Turkish unit of Singapore’s PhillipCapital Group, and Unlu Menkul Degerler AS, part-owned by South Africa’s Standard Bank Group Ltd.

Invest AZ Menkul Degerler AS, majority-owned by Azerbaijani businessman Elshan Guliyev, is also among brokerages that will undertake “promotional and marketing activities” to encourage foreign companies to consider trading in Istanbul, Borsa Istanbul said.

“Activating brokerages is a good idea,” said Attila Koksal, who signed the agreement on behalf of Unlu Menkul Degerler. “If, during our contacts abroad, we manage to describe the transformation that Turkish capital markets are going through, we will get some results.” Koksal is a board member at Borsa Istanbul.

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