UniCredit exit may mark turning point for Turkish banking - expert

The Milan-based Unicredit’s expected full exit from recession-hit Turkey could be a turning point for the country’s banking sector, as the Italian bank’s entry into the Turkish market was once an indicator of Ankara’s successful economic policies, Turkish expert Öner Günçavdı told Deutsche Welle Turkish on Wednesday. 

“One of the strongest reflections of the success story created after 2002 was Unicredit’s entry into the market trusting Turkey and its economy,” said Günçavdı, an academic at Istanbul Technical University.

The Italian bank has been an investor in Turkey’s Yapı Kredi bank since 2002 when it entered the joint venture with Koc Holding in what became the first foreign partnership in Turkey’s financial services industry. Unicredit and Koç Holding confirmed earlier this week that they were in talks to change the ownership structure of Turkey’s third largest private bank. 

UniCredit plans to sell its 50 percent stake in its joint venture Koç Financial Services - which controls Yapı Kredi - to its partner Koc Holding, two sources told Reuters last week. 

Günçavdı said other Western banks might consider selling their stakes in the Turkey in the near future. “Of course, this is not only related to Turkey’s shortcomings, this is what happens when the fact that Turkey is at the end of its (success) story is combined with European banks problems of downsizing,” he said. 

UniCredit has been restructuring under Chief Executive Jean Pierre Mustier, shedding assets to strengthen its balance sheet, Reuters said last week. 

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