Bank Asya Slumps as Turkish Airlines Drops It Amid Gulen DisputeIsobel Finkel
Asya Katilim Bankasi AS, the Istanbul-based lender caught in a feud between the government and an Islamic movement, fell to its lowest in more than three weeks as Turkish Airlines said it was no longer using the bank.
Turkish Airlines Chairman Hamdi Topcu, who heads Europe’s second-biggest airline, said that his company has entirely ceased banking with the Islamic lender. Bank Asya’s shares declined 4.1 percent at 12:24 p.m. in Istanbul, the biggest drop since Feb. 12. Topcu didn’t say where the airline, known in Turkish by its initials THY, had transferred its deposits.
Bank Asya is linked to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, and is a member of the business group Tuskon that represents many companies whose executives sympathize with Gulen’s movement. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Gulen’s followers in the police and judiciary are behind a corruption probe into his government that was made public on Dec. 17, and which he says is a coup attempt.
“The market may be concerned that Turkish Airlines removing deposits may have a negative impact on the funding structure of the bank,” Duygun Kutucu, a banking analyst at Burgan Securities, said by phone from Istanbul today. “It was known in the market that THY took out large deposits before, so I actually think the market’s overreacting at the moment.”
The bank has lost 41 percent since Dec. 16, the day before the corruption probe ensnared the sons of three cabinet ministers and the head of state-run lender Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS. Bank Asya’s price-to-book ratio of 0.43 is the lowest in an index of 16 listed Turkish lenders, where the average ratio is 0.95, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.