Sell-offs valued at about $566 million ranging from banks to ports were approved on 20 March by the government’s Higher Privatisation Board (HPB) chaired by Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. The deals are among $881 million worth negotiated by the government’s Privatisation Administration since 1 January.

Other large privatisations had been expected from the HPB, but the meeting did not have time, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tansu Ciller said afterwards. The sales are part of an accelerated programme aimed to raise $5,000 million in 1997 (MEED 23.3.97).

The amount of sales concluded compares favourably with only about $3,100 million worth of sales made since the mid-1980s, economists say.

The largest sale was one of three state banks formed from Etibank. An institution retaining the name Etibank for $202 million to Dogan Kumascilik. Anadolubank was sold for $72 million to Mehmet Rustu Basaran, and Denizbank for $68.6 million to Zorlu Holding.

The HPB also approved the sale of a state shipping company, Deniz Nakliyat, for $141.2 million to Deniz Nakliyat Tum Calis, an investor group including former Istanbul mayor Bedrettin Dalan. Ergani Cimento, a cement plant, to Rumeli Cimento for $46.7 million; and tyremaker Petlas to Kombasan Holding for

$35.7 million.

In the long-term, the government is expected to continue with a telecommunications sale in early 1998, after signing an advisory contract on 14 March with a consortium led by Goldman Sachs. The planned initial sale of about 15 per cent of Turk-Telekomunikasyon (Turk-Telekom) is expected to raise up to

$3,500 million.

Preparations are also underway for the sale of refineries, a refined products distributor, and part of petrochemicals combine Petkim, which in total is expected to net upwards of $3,000 million.