Turkey wealth fund seeks to buy EBRD’s Istanbul bourse stake - report

Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund is seeking to buy the 10 percent stake in the Istanbul Stock Exchange owned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Hürriyet newspaper reported, citing Zafer Sönmez, the fund’s general manager.

The fund wants to increase its stake in the exchange to over 90 percent, Sönmez said, according to the newspaper.

The sovereign wealth fund’s interest in the shares follows a report by Reuters this week that the EBRD was looking to sell its 10 percent holding as soon as possible.

The EBRD’s move was sparked by a government decision to appoint Mehmet Hakan Atilla, convicted early last year by a New York court of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, as the bourse’s chief executive, Reuters said. Atilla returned to Turkey in July after serving out his jail sentence.

The sovereign wealth fund is chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Its deputy chairman is Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdoğan’s son-in-law. Albayrak named Atilla as CEO last week.

Erdoğan and Albayrak had slammed the legal proceedings against Atilla, who was serving as deputy CEO of state-run Halkbank, labelling the charges as a fabrication. New York prosecutors announced earlier this month that they were charging Halkbank with sanctions evasion.