Bank Hapoalim Says Turkey Unit Pozitif Gets Buyer Interest

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Bank Hapoalim said an investor has expressed “initial interest” in acquiring Bank Pozitif Kredi ve Kalkinma Bankasi AS, the Turkish lender it controls.

There has been no formal approach to Bank Hapoalim, and the management and board haven’t discussed the matter, Israel’s largest lender by assets said in a filing to the Tel Aviv bourse late Monday. Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported May 8 that Hapoalim is in talks to sell its 70 percent stake to Altinhas Holding, without saying where it got the information. Calls to Altinhas, an Istanbul-based company with interests in retail, construction and finance, weren’t immediately returned.

“Bank Hapoalim will be happy if they can sell the unit as Turkey is not a strategic market for the bank,” Alon Glazer, an analyst at Leader Capital Markets Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said by phone on Tuesday. Ofra Preuss, a Bank Hapoalim spokeswoman, declined to comment further when contacted by phone.

A sale by Hapoalim would be the latest withdrawal by a foreign investor from Turkish banking. Pressure on Turkish assets is mounting amid concern that the direction of economic policy may change after June 7 elections, as some stalwarts of the ruling party’s economic administration prepare to leave their posts.

Citigroup Inc. has sold its 9.9 percent stake in Akbank, prematurely exiting a lock-up agreement, while HSBC Holdings Plc is reportedly looking for buyers for its Turkish unit.

The remaining 30 percent of Bank Pozitif is owned by C Faktoring AS, according to Borsa Istanbul. The bank had assets of 1.85 billion liras ($690 million) at the end of 2014, according to an investor presentation.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to fix the name of Pozitif’s 30 percent shareholder.)