TURKEY’S ECONOMY: IS THE DEAL ON PAMUK AND YAPI KREDI A SHOW STOPPER FOR THE IMF?

ID
03ANKARA887
SUBJECT
TURKEY’S ECONOMY: IS THE DEAL ON PAMUK AND YAPI KREDI A SHOW STOPPER FOR THE IMF?
DATE
2003-02-04 17:46:00
CLASSIFICATION
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
ORIGIN
Embassy Ankara
TEXT
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000887 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR E, EB/IFD/OMA AND EUR/SE
TREASURY FOR OASIA – MILLS AND LEICHTER
STATE PASS USTR – NOVELLI AND BIRDSEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY’S ECONOMY: IS THE DEAL ON PAMUK AND YAPI KREDI A SHOW STOPPER FOR THE IMF?

REF: ANKARA 676

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet distribution.

¶1. (SBU) Summary: As details of the Banking Board’s January 31 deal with Cukurova Group emerge, it looks like bail-out of the group. The deal reschedules Cukurova’s $5 billion debt to two banks (Pamuk and Yapi Kredi) on favorable terms, without requiring the group to put any cash upfront. Furthermore, the two banks sell their 20 percent of Turkcell (Turkey’s largest cellphone operator) back to the group in exchange for more debt. IMF management has complained about the deal to the government. IMF staff is not yet addressing whether this deal prevents them from completing the Fourth Review, given other issues left to resolve (especially on the budget), but this is a likely conclusion, per the IMF resrep. End Summary.

Where’s the Money? ——————

¶2. (SBU) On January 31, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BRSA) signed an agreement with the Cukurova Group to resolve Cukurova’s $5 billion debt to two banks previously owned by Cukurova – Pamuk and Yapi Kredi. These two banks together represent about 20 percent of Turkish bank assets.

¶3. (SBU) On February 2, BRSA released the broad outlines of the deal to the public, which we reported last week (reftel): Cukurova will repay a $3 billion debt to Pamukbank over 15 years, with 3 years grace period on principal, at LIBOR plus 0.5 percent; Cukurova will repay a $2 billion debt to Yapi Kredi over 9 years, 3 years grace on principal, at LIBOR plus 3.5 percent. Cukurova will pledge as collateral other group assets, most importantly its shares in Turkcell (Turkey’s largest cellphone operator). Cukurova will not give cash up front, but will give Yapi Kredi Bank 50 percent of the shares of ATEL (a prepaid phone card business) in exchange for forgiving about $300 million of its debt to Yapi (bringing that debt down to $2 billion). Finally, Cukurova drops its legal challenge to BRSA’s take-over of the insolvent Pamukbank, and agrees to sell its 45 percent stake in Yapi Kredi in two years (down from an initial three years under the draft protocol agreement in reftel).

¶4. (SBU) On February 3, BRSA Vice President Ceyla Pazarbasioglu provided us additional information about the deal:

— The payment schedule for the $5 billion debt: Cukurova will make payments twice a year, with annual payments of only $145 million in the first two years (during the grace period on principal payments), rising to $460 million in year 3 and peaking at $887 million in year 8.

— Collateral pledged to secure the $5 billion debt, most importantly Cukurova’s 42 percent stake in Turkcell: This 42 percent of Turkcell includes nearly 20 percent that was owned by the two bank subsidiaries of Cukurova Pamuk and Yapi Kredi. (Note: Turkcell’s market valuation is currently about $4 billion, down from a high of about $17 billion in 2000.) The two banks agreed as part of this rescheduling to sell their shares back to Cukurova, and add the sales price to the existing debt owed by the holding company. The theory is that Cukurova is best situated to maximize the income stream from Turkcell, and thus use this income to pay back its bank debts. (Comment; In effect, this constitutes another loan from the banks to Cukurova. End Comment.)

— Yapi Kredi’s cash position: Rescheduling the $2 billion debt improves Yapi’s balance sheet (from insolvent to nearly 13 percent capital adequacy), but doesn’t change its cash position. Giving Yapi non-marketable shares in ATEL also doesn’t translate into cash. If Yapi’s capital adequacy falls below 10 percent, the deal calls for BRSA to inject capital into the bank and dilute Cukurova’s 45 percent interest.

— Management of Yapi Kredi. Though Cukurova will continue owning its Yapi Kredi shares for two years (down from an initial three years in the draft protocol agreement), BRSA will have complete management control, and will select a consulting firm to recommend replacements to both Yapi’s board and senior management. The goal is to replace the Cukurova people who approved the lending to the holding company. — Criminal prosecution option. BRSA waives its right to take Cukurova to bankruptcy court, but doesn’t waive its rights to prosecute Cukurova or owner KARAMEHMET for criminal fraud.

— Asked if BRSA had looked at the option of taking over Yapi Kredi Bank, Pazarbasioglu made the point that Cukurova would block such a move in court, just as he had with Pamukbank. Noone would buy either bank with Cukurova’s legal claim outstanding. The weakness of Turkey’s legal system dictated this kind of negotiated deal with Cukurova, according to Pazarbasioglu.

¶5. (SBU) Comment: Pazarbasioglu is right about the Turkish legal system, but that still doesn’t explain why Cukurova wasn’t required to put any money into either bank upfront (and why it acquires the two banks’ shares of Turkcell in a new loan), while its existing loan is rescheduled on favorable terms. The deal requires two leaps of faith: first, that Cukurova will gain the capacity to service $450 million plus in debt service within two years (which assumes its telecom and high tech businesses recover); second, that Cukurova’s owner KARAMEHMET has the intention to repaying this debt even if he does gain the capacity to do so (he hasn’t shown this intention previously). End Comment.

The IMF Reaction, and Press Leak ——————————–

¶6. (SBU) IMF resrep and resident banking expert tell us this deal presents serious problems, but they need to see the complete details before reaching a conclusion. Given the lack of progress over other issues (agreement on the 2003 budget and draft amendments to the Public Procurement Law which would gut this reform), the Fund staff are not yet taking the position that this deal would prevent a completion of the Fourth Review. But they might well reach this conclusion, per IMF resrep. IMF Europe Director Deppler called BRSA Chairman Akcakoca to warn the BRSA on January 30 not to sign the Cukurova deal until the Fund had the chance to study the details. IMF Managing Director Koehler followed up with a letter to PM Gul, also faxed to Treasury and BRSA, and then an angry phone call to Gul, asking the GOT to tell BRSA not to sign the agreement.

¶7. (SBU) The Koehler letter was leaked to the press, and AK Chairman Erdogan commented to the press that the IMF was finally agreeing with AK that there were problems with the independent regulatory boards, and that they need more central government supervision. (Comment: This exchange has further reduced the credibility and independence of the BRSA.) End Comment.

Comment ——-

¶8. (SBU) The Pamuk and Yapi Kredi deal is signed. Unlike the budget and Public Procurement Law amendment impasses, it would be difficult if not impossible for the GOT to walk it back. The deal at a minimum is highly favorable to Cukurova, and looks like a partial bail-out of the group (injection of $2.7 billion of GOT paper into Pamuk, regulatory forbearance and possible future injection into Yapi Kredi).

PEARSON

HEADER
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. 

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