Turkey’s Largest Grocery Chain Said to Explore Sale of Stake

Turgut Aydin Holding, the majority owner of A101 Yeni Magazacilik AS, hired advisers to explore the sale of a minority stake in Turkey’s largest grocery chain, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Turgut Aydin holds about an 80 percent stake in A101, while Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund -- known as TMSF -- holds the remaining 20 percent after taking it over from unidentified businessmen accused of being linked to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric that the Turkish government says was behind July’s attempted coup, said the people, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private.

The composition of the stake could come from Turgut Aydin alone or could include a share of TMSF’s holding, the people said. Investors including private equity firms have expressed an interest in the company and a sale could happen this year, they said. Representatives for TMSF declined to comment.

“There are legal cases continuing against the four shareholders that own 20 percent and we will see if they will eventually participate in the sale with their stake pending the court cases,” Can Ersoz, chief financial officer at A101, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. He said that the TMSF hasn’t seized their stakes.

A101 was founded in 2008 by a group of investors led by the Zapsu family who also founded its largest competitor BIM Birlesik Magazalar AS. The grocer now has more than 6,500 stores, up from about 2,000 in 2013. An attempt to sell a 35 percent stake to Capital Group International, which valued the company at 900 million liras ($238 million), fell through in 2013 after a disagreement on price.

TMSF has seized more than 800 companies since July when some members of the military attempted to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The government has started a nationwide purge of so-called Gulenists which has led to more than 150,000 people being jailed, losing their jobs or being suspended from government offices.

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