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Jan 10 2019

Turkey's economy more important than its banks - Head of the Banks Assoc.

Turkish banks have restructured 118 billion liras ($21.2 billion) of loans as of the end of November and are looking to lend more money to support economic growth, said Hüseyin Aydın, head of the Banks Association of Turkey (TBB).

The total loan book of Turkish banks stands at 2.5 trillion liras, equivalent to 62 percent of their balance sheets, said Aydın, who is also chief executive officer of Ziraat Bank, Turkey’s largest state-run lender. That is one of the highest figures in the world, he said, according to Milliyet newspaper.

“For the banking sector, the balance sheet of the economy is more important than our own balance sheets,” Aydın said. “If Turkey grows, if it wins, if it is strong, we grow too, we win and we are strong.”

Aydın referred to an agreement this week to lend an additional 20 billion liras to small and medium-sized enterprises at preferential rates of interest as proof of banks’ commitment to supporting industry and the economy.

Turkey’s government is urging banks to lend more money to consumers and businesses to pull the country out of an economic downturn. Banks became a focus point of concern for investors last year after the lira slumped against the dollar, pushing up interest rates and causing some firms to miss loan repayments.

Aydın said non-performing loans in the sector, equivalent to 4 percent of total loans, were at a very manageable level.

Ziraat Bank is managed under the auspices of Turkey's sovereign wealth fund, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.