Turkish billionaire sells top Istanbul mall to Qatar for $1 billion – report

Turkish billionaire Ferit Şahenk has agreed to sell one of Istanbul’s top shopping malls to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund for about $1 billion, Dünya newspaper reported.

The sale of İstinye Park, located on the European side of Istanbul, to Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is expected to be officially announced in the coming days, according to Dünya, which did not say how it got the information.

Şahenk, 56, is among several billionaire Turkish businessmen who have struggled financially since a currency crisis swept through financial markets in the summer of 2018. He has agreed with banks to restructure billions of dollars of foreign currency debt, which grew more expensive to repay after the lira slumped. The lira has since pegged fresh record lows against the dollar and euro.

Şahenk, who controls conglomerate Doguş Holding, has also sold marinas in Turkey, Greece, the United Arab Emirates and Croatia to investment company CVC Capital this year as he offloads assets. He has also put several luxury hotels up for sale.

The Turkish lira is now worth 7.77 per dollar compared with around 1.6 per dollar at the start of 2011.

The billionaire became a symbol of Turkey’s economic and business successes during the 2000s through his ownership of leading Turkish bank Garanti and media companies. But he sold shares in Garanti to Spain’s BBVA in 2010 and borrowed more capital to switch into the property and construction industries, which helped spur an economic boom in Turkey before the lira’s collapse.

International ratings agencies are now warning of an increase in banks’ non-performing loans, particularly those denominated in foreign currency, after a latest sell-off in the lira, which prompted the central bank to hike interest rates to 15 percent from 10.25 percent last week. The lira hit a record low of 8.58 per dollar on Nov. 6.

İstinye Park was built in 2007 and has a total floor space of 90,000 square meters. It contains 300 retail units.