Banking watchdog finds it hard to sell debt-ridden Bank Asya
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMay 12, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
May 12, 2016 12:00 am
The head of the Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund said the deadline for the sale of Bank Asya is May 29. The bank, which has struggled with bad loans, will be liquidated if a buyer cannot be found
The head of the Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF), Şakir Ercan Gül, gave a precise date regarding the future of Bank Asya, saying: "We will inspect the sale process until May 29, if the sale is not realized, the bank will be liquidated." Speaking to Reuters at the Turkey Participation (Islamic) Banks General Council yesterday, Gül said that the TMSF, which took over the bank on May 30, 2015, with the decision of the Banking Supervisory and Regulatory Authority (BDDK), has been approaching the completion of the one-year process for the sale of Bank Asya.
After the takeover by the TMSF, Bank Asya's actual financial situation was revealed. Accordingly, the bank had been hiding its sunken credit. That credit rate, which was 3.9 percent under the previous management September 2013, rose to 33.4 percent - tenfold higher than the banking sector's average, in the same period in 2015. While the sunken credit totaled TL 2.2 billion ($740 million), the credit volume became TL 6.5 billion in September 2015. Therefore, the bank's capital, which was TL 2.6 billion in 2013 prior to the recent revelation of deceptive actions on the part of previous bank management, dropped to TL1.2 billion in 2015. Upon inspection of the actual amount of sunken credit, the cumulative losses of Bank Asya totaled TL 1.6 billion.
Believed to be the main financial institution of the controversial Gülen Movement and its affiliated companies, Bank Asya's financial situation deteriorated as Turkish authorities started probing the shadowy organization. The bank started reporting huge losses throughout 2015, while its shares were suspended from trading in Borsa Istanbul (BIST) on Sept. 26, 2014 due to high volatility threatening investors and to prevent further losses. Starting from February, the BDDK initially seized the shares of the bank belonging to Gülen-linked companies, while a complete takeover came on May 30. Irregular monetary transactions and loans to Gülen-linked companies and a lack of transparency in conducting business were cited among the key reasons for the bank's seizure.
Also, Mehmet Ali Akben, president of the Banking Supervisory and Regulatory Authority (BDDK), said Tuesday that Bank Asya participation bank will either be sold by the end of the month or its license will be canceled.
Akben said that the TMSF is currently holding talks with prospective buyers for Bank Asya, but the BDDK will proceed with the liquidation of the bank in case the sale has not been finished by the end of the month.
According to Article 71 of the Banking Law, banks are given shareholder rights as well as management and inspection exceptions for dividend rights, but it requires the bank's financial strength be strengthened and restructured as well as for any takeover, merger or acquisition to occur within at latest one year along with the additional three-month process after the takeover is initiated. Otherwise, as the legal procedure requires, a bank will be liquidated if it cannot be integrated into the financial system in the aforementioned ways.
The provisioned nine-month process for Bank Asya was prolonged by three months as of Feb. 29. According to a written announcement from the TMSF at the time, the final decision to end the Bank Asya takeover process will be taken within three months, adding that the process will end in either a selloff or a merger and acquisition. The written statement commented on the existing legal framework, as it is not possible for a bank with the status of a fund bank to be repurchased by former shareholders. Unless any such cases are realized, the bank will be liquidated at the end of the three-month process.
In May of last year, the BDDK's audit report on Bank Asya said the bank's privileged shareholders signed blank transfer contracts and a large number of dubious transactions were carried out. The audit report, which was addressed during a four-and-a-half-hour BDDK meeting, revealed that 40 percent of the bank's privileged shareholders signed blank transfer contracts, making the bank's shareholding structure questionable. Pointing to the deterioration of the bank's financial structure, the report said that the assets of the bank shrank considerably. After 63 percent of stakes belonging to the bank's A group shareholders were transferred to the TMSF with the exception of dividends on Feb. 3 2015, the BDDK launched an investigation into the bank, finding a number of questionable transactions in investigations carried out by financial crimes specialists and the financial crimes unit of the police department.
The BDDK said in May 2015 that the bank's profits and capital base had collapsed despite being put under the scope of Article 70 of the Banking Law that regulates the BDDK's intervention in troubled banks. The BDDK added that the trouble in Bank Asya's financial structure, administration and operations pose risks to depositors as well as the security and stability of the financial system. The Gülen Movement is accused of infiltrating state institutions through large-scale cheating and nepotism with aims to topple the democratically elected government through investigations launched by its members in the police and judiciary using fake evidence and illegal wiretapping.