Ziraat Bank is aiming to grow its investments in Uzbekistan by acquiring the full share of UTBANK, the country's first foreign bank. UTBANK was established with the highest banking license and it began operating in the first days of Uzbekistan's independence.
İlker Met, the head of the Enterprise Architecture Group at Ziraat Bank, said that 50 percent of UTBANK's shares belong to the Ziraat Finance Group and the remaining 50 percent are with Uzbekistan's agricultural service provider Agrobank.
"A preliminary agreement has been reached in detailed talks held regarding the purchase of Agrobank's 50 percent stake in UTBANK by Ziraat Bank; thus providing service in Uzbekistan with 100 percent Ziraat Bank capital," Met said. "Following the agreement, we are working on completing the transfer of shares in a short period of time and will enter Uzbekistan in 2018 under the brand ‘Ziraat Bank-Uzbekistan.'"
He also noted that UTBANK has contributed to the development of foreign trade and production between the two countries since its establishment. He pointed out that Turkey's foreign direct investment (FDI) in Uzbekistan stands at about $1 billion and they expect these investments to increase further in the future.
Met said that they want to strengthen the synergy between Ziraat Bank and its banks operating in Central Asia, and its presence in Uzbekistan. He added that the bank aims to facilitate bilateral trade between countries by acting according to the philosophy of Ziraat Finance Group.
Meanwhile, Hayri Kartopu, the president of the Foreign Economic Relations Board's (DEİK) Turkey-Uzbekistan Business Council, stated that Ziraat Bank's 100-percent stake in UTBANK will be a great convenience in terms of the banking transactions made by firms that operate or are planning to operate in Uzbekistan.
Kartopu said that during bilateral talks, bank officials stated that Turkish firms will use credit limits in Turkey in Uzbekistan. This will provide the advantage of solving the needs of Turkish firms quickly, especially the needs of contractors regarding the guarantee letter. He added that recent steps taken by the Uzbek government regarding economic territory, including the liberalization of the foreign exchange market, tax reductions in agriculture, livestock and food production, and simplifications in the export and import system, are promising for the future.