Duvar English

Turkey’s state-run Ziraat Bank has backtracked on its plan to acquire the majority of stakes in Turkish bakery chain Simit Sarayı following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements regarding the issue. Accordingly, the bank withdrew its application to the Competition Board.

Last week, a branch of the Ziraat Bank Finance Group applied to the Competition Board to acquire 51 percent of the shares of Simit Sarayı, which is alleged holds debts of up to half a billion dollars. Following the public criticism of such a takeover, Erdoğan intervened in the case, calling Ziraat Bank’s CEO.

“As soon as I heard about this [Ziraat Bank’s application to acquire buy the bakery chain], I called the bank CEO. The CEO told me, ‘This was on our agenda at some point, but we are not thinking of it right now. [The move would be undertaken by] In fact not Ziraat Bank, but a venture capital arm of Ziraat Bank,’” Erdoğan told group of journalists in Geneva on Dec. 17, where he attended the Global Forum on Refugees.

Asked if he would approve of such a takeover, Erdoğan said: “No, it is not possible for me to approve of this. Remember how state banks used to go bankrupt because of duty losses. We [the ruling Justice and Development Party] came into power and firstly saved all of the state banks from these duty losses.”

Following Erdoğan’s statements, the Competition Board deleted on its website the announcement of the application made by Ziraat Bank Finance Group.