Tupras Drops to 2-Month Low on Tax Probe Report: Istanbul Mover

Tupras Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS slumped to a two-month low after the Hurriyet newspaper reported more details on a tax probe into Turkey’s sole crude-oil refiner and three other companies.

Shares of Tupras, which is based in Kocaeli, Turkey, declined 2.4 percent to 40.4 liras at the close in Istanbul, the lowest level since Sept. 6. More than 1.7 million shares were traded, 92 percent above the three-month daily average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock was the second-biggest decliner on the Borsa Istanbul National 100 Index, which rose 0.6 percent.

The Tax Inspection Board is collecting data to assess whether Tupras, Aygaz AS and two other companies have been involved in tax evasion, Hurriyet said today. The paper carried a scanned copy of what it said was a Sept. 19 request from the tax agency to the Customs and Trade Ministry. Aygaz lost 1.7 percent, while Koc Holding AS, Tupras’ parent, fell 1.5 percent.

“Such stories create concern among investors,” Hasan Sener, an analyst at Oyak Securities in Istanbul, said by phone. “The shares are negatively affected.”

Representatives of Koc Holding and Tupras declined to comment when contacted by phone today. The tax board didn’t immediately respond to a phone call from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Shares of Tupras have dropped 22 percent this year, underperforming the benchmark index, partly on concern Koc Holding companies were facing greater scrutiny since anti-government protests in the summer. Koc-owned Divan Hotel in Istanbul will be investigated for “providing shelter” to demonstrators fleeing police, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said June 25.

Tax Probes

Koc Holding, Turkey’s biggest group of companies, has retreated 2.8 percent in 2013, while Aygaz lost 13 percent. Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi AS, the lender co-owned by Koc Holding and UniCredit SpA, was fined 103.2 million liras ($50 million) in back taxes related to tax inspection of its Bahraini operations from 2008 to 2010, the company said Nov. 11.

The Finance Ministry started a probe into Tupras’ tax filings and an audit of its raw materials, products and lubricants’ inventory, the company said on July 24. Aygaz, which sells liquefied petroleum gas, said the same day a tax probe was under way. Samples taken at Tupras and Opet plants met regulatory standards, Taraf newspaper reported in August.

Four analysts recommend investors buy Tupras shares, while 23 say hold and seven advise selling, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.