The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has been authorized as the lead regulator to refinance the $2.7 billion current loan for Turkey's two megaprojects, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and the Northern Marmara Highway Project.
Under the agreement, ICBC Turkey will provide financing for the project, previously funded by the Turkish banking system, from international markets with more favorable terms.
At the One Belt, One Road Investment and Financial Cooperation Summit in Ankara, ICBC Turkey signed the letter of authorization for the refinancing, which was signed by ICBC Turkey Chairman Gao Xiangyang and IC Holding Board Member Serhat Çeçen under the auspices of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez and ICBC Chairman Yi Huiman.
That the refinancing, an important milestone with regard to China and Turkey's One Belt, One Road vision, will be carried out by ICBC Turkey, is of great importance for strategic and geopolitical relations between the two countries.
IC İçtaş-Astaldi Consortium (ICA) designed and built the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and the Northern Marmara Highway Project as a private developer and still operates them.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Istanbul's third bridge linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, opened in August 2016.
The North Marmara Highway, currently under construction, will connect Turkey's Asian and European lands via Istanbul's third bridge, while providing an alternative transit route bypassing the city's clogged traffic.
The project, which has a total length of 430 kilometers (172 km on the European and 258 km on the Asian side), is expected to be fully operational in 2019.
Meanwhile, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak announced on Thursday that the ICBC would provide a $3.6 billion loan package for Turkey's energy and transportation sectors.
ICBC Turkey became the first Chinese bank to operate in Turkey after it acquired majority shares of a local bank in May 2015. The bank was the first to use a TL 450-million ($98.5 million) fund created by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) within the framework of a swap agreement signed in 2012 and renewed in 2015.