France’s Banque Paribas group is negotiating with several local industrial holdings for the sale of its effective controlling stake in Osmanli Bankasi (Ottoman Bank), a senior executive in its Luxembourg holding company Compagnie Financiere Ottomane (CFO) says.

However, no deal has been concluded, CFO deputy chairman George Warren told MEED on 27 March.

Warren would neither confirm nor deny local press reports that treasury approval is pending for a bid valued at about $250 million from Dogus Holding, parent of a construction, industry and banking conglomerate. Paribas has also had negotiations with several other local industrial groups, including the leading Koc Holding, press reports say.

The move to sell the institution developed from a planned initial public offering cancelled in the summer of 1995 when the Istanbul Stock Exchange failed to perform, Warren said.

Osmanli Bankasi differs from most other foreign banks in Turkey by having a large retail network of around 60 branches. The institution made net profits of around TL 2.4 million million (around $40 million at year-end exchange rates) in 1995, when its total assets were TL 32 million million ($455 million). Its shareholders’ funds in capital and reserves amounted to TL 6.6 million million ($94 million).

CFO owns 100 per cent of Osmanli Bankasi. Paribas has a 49 per cent stake in CFO, the remaining shareholding being widely spread between investment institutions in London and a large number of small investors.

The country’s oldest institution, the bank was founded in 1863 to finance the Ottoman Empire’s debts after the Crimean war. It served as the country’s central bank until the establishment of the Turkish republic in 1923.

Two other bank sales have been concluded recently. Nergis Holding purchased a 71.9 per cent stake in the merchant and trading institution Interbank for an undisclosed price, while Anadolu Endustri Holding has purchased 80 per cent of another small institution, Alternatifbank, for a reported $70 million.