Turkey hunts foreign listings for new central exchange

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2013

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Turkey's newly-merged trading exchange signed deals with brokers from southeast Asia, Africa and the Caucasus on April 10, enlisting their help in attracting foreign companies to list in Istanbul as part of the bid to turn the city into a global financial centre.

Part of an initiative entitled "Listing Istanbul," Borsa Istanbul signed agreements with eight brokerages, including the Turkish unit of Singapore's PhillipCapital Group, Unlu Menkul Degerler - part-owned by South Africa's Standard Bank - and Invest AZ Menkul Degerler, majority-owned by Azeri businessman Elshan Guliyev, reports Bloomberg. The brokerages will undertake "promotional and marketing activities" to encourage foreign companies to consider trading in Istanbul, the exchange said.

Borsa Istanbul was formed on April 5 by merging the Istanbul Stock Exchange with the Istanbul Gold Exchange and the Izmir-based Derivatives Exchange. The building of a single trading exchange is a major step in Ankara's push to fill the gap in the market between London and Asia. Turkey is racing the likes of Russia for the privilege; Moscow's formerly two stock exchanges were merged last year and conducted an IPO recently as a step in the Russian bid.

The push for new listing will solicit the help of partners to help lure companies from 45 countries, Borsa Istanbul said at its press event, admitting that the track record for overseas listings is poor. Only one foreign company - Do & Co, a catering partner to Turkish Airlines - currently trades in Turkey out of 332 listings, Borsa Istanbul data show.

"An international financial centre implies companies from other countries coming to your market as well," Borsa Istanbul Chairman Ibrahim Turhan said, adding that if successful, the exchange could IPO by late 2015. According to Hurriyet Daily News, the Borsa Istanbul chief also claimed that developments regarding strategic partnerships are ongoing. However, he failed to offer details, saying that they won't be announced until the summer.

The exchange chief also discussed progress in the bid to join the Euroclear trading system. Turhan claimed that joining the world's biggest bond settlement system may increase foreign ownership of Turkish sovereign debt by as much as 50%, according to Bloomberg. "We will be reaching as many as 200,000 new investors with Euroclear," he stated.

Turhan said last month that Borsa Istanbul hopes to have an agreement with the clearing system by the end of 2013. He told reporters on April 10 that Euroclear representatives are currently on the ground. "Their members are in Turkey as I speak, work continues," he said.

Again, Turkey is racing Russia in the bid to expand its debt trading role. Euroclear began direct clearing of Russian debt in February, in a move some analysts have estimated could lift inflows to the country by as much as $30bn. Turkey's sovereign debt market, at $295bn, is almost twice that of Russia's already, while Ankara is pushing hard to make Turkey a major player in unleashing the huge potential of Islamic funding in its neighbourhood.

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