Turkish lender targets European expansion from Romania – Hurriyet Daily News

Leading Turkish lender Garanti Bank has established a new bank in Romania that is authorized to run all kinds of banking activities, daily Milliyet reported Thursday.

Garanti Romania was founded after the Turkish bank’s former partner General Electric, or GE, sold its entire stake in the Romanian enterprise, which was operating only in consumer financing.

Following GE’s sale of its Garanti Bank shares, a total of 18.6 percent, to Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in November last year for $3.7 billion, the partnership between GE and Garanti officially ended overseas.

GE has been withdrawing from the finance business as a measure against the global recession that emerged in 2008.

“In accordance with previous agreements, GE transferred its consumer financing company partnership to Garanti, exiting the Romanian market as well,” Milliyet said Thursday. With this development, Garanti now has two banks in Europe – one in the Netherlands and now a second one in Romania.

The new-founded regular bank will engage in retail banking, Milliyet reported, pointing toward a link in strategy as Garanti in the Netherlands can only operate in commercial financing. However, if its plans are realized, Garanti Bank Romania will be able to do banking in other EU member countries, too, actively operating in credit card, debit card, ATM and web-banking operations.

Garanti Bank has been present in Romania since 1998 and until 2007 offered banking services for Romanian and international companies. Since 2007, Garanti Bank developed products and services for individuals and small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, extending at the same time its network of agencies, ATMs and POS terminals.

The Garanti-GE partnership started in 2005.

In 2010, Garanti Bank increased its assets, moderately increasing its ranking in the top Romanian banks’ list from 11 to 14 over the previous year.

The loans provided by the bank increased by more than 45 percent to 750 million euros in 2010 compared with the end of 2009.

Garanti Bank currently operates a network of 75 agencies, 162 ATMs and more than 7,000 POS machines. At the end of 2010, the number of Garanti Bank customers reached 200,000, according to data on the lender’s official website.

Rumors on Bekerbank

Daily Vatan, meanwhile, reported that Russia’s Sberbank may be targeting a purchase of Turkey’s ?ekerbank, 33.98 percent of which is owned by BTA Securities JSC of Kazakhstan. Earlier in the week, Turkish media had reported on speculation that the Russian lender was targeting Yap? Kredi.

Sberbank applied last week to Turkey’s Investment Support and Promotion Agency to acquire a bank. “Rumors say the target may be ?ekerbank,” said Vatan, without naming any source.

BTA Securities JSC acquired the stake in Bekerbank in 2007. The lender was nationalized by the Kazakhstan government after the global credit crunch in 2009, meaning the Central Asiajn country’s government now owns part of ?ekerbank.

The market value of the Turkish lender as of Wednesday stood at $780.7 million. Its net profits in 2010 were 170.2 million liras.

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