Russia’s Sberbank reportedly considers selling Turkish unit Denizbank

By bne IntelliNews June 13, 2016

Russian lender Sberbank mulls selling its Turkish unit Denizbank amid rising tension between Ankara and Moscow, unnamed sources told Turkish financial news website Paranaliz.

Relations between Turkey and Russia went sour after a Russian bomber was downed by a Turkish jet near the Syrian border last year. In response, Moscow imposed a raft of economic sanctions that are hitting hard Turkey's export and tourism industry. Turkey still refuses to apologise for the plane incident.

Sberbank owns 99.85% of Denizbank, which the Russian lender acquired from Belgium’s Dexia for TRY6.47bn (€1.96bn) back in 2012. Denizbank closed the first quarter with a net income of TRY301mn, up from TRY269mn a year ago. Assets of the bank stood at TRY115bn at the end of March, up from TRY113bn at end-2015. Denizbank has 738 branches and 15,000 employees.

Back in March, the head of the Russian lender, German Gref, said he was satisfied with Sberbank’s business in Turkey and that he saw good opportunities to grow there.

The report on Sberbank’s plans to exit Turkey comes a week after Abraaj Group decided to enter the Turkish banking sector through the acquisition of a minority stake in Fibabanka.

Net income of Turkish banks increased by 32% y/y to TRY11bn (€3.3bn) in the first four months of 2016. Last year, the banking industry’s net profit rose by 5.9% to TRY26.1bn. Profit growth is projected to gain further strength this year with estimates by the Turkish Banking Association (TBB) pitching it at 12%.

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