World Economy

Turkish Banks Need $6b in Refinancing

The banks need to refinance $77 billion of foreign currency wholesale bonds and syndicated loans, or 41% of total market funding, within the next year, Moody’s said
Turkish annual consumer-price inflation hit 17.9%, up from July’s  15.9%.Turkish annual consumer-price inflation hit 17.9%, up from July’s  15.9%.

Turkish banks may have to pay up once again as they rush to meet $6 billion of financing deadlines amid the country’s worst economic crisis in years.

At least nine lenders have to complete annual dollar loan syndications by yearend, leaving an industry heavily reliant on overseas funding little time and few options to conclude deals often involving dozens of global banks, Bloomberg reported.

Akbank Turk AS, Turkiye Is Bankasi AS and state-owned Export Credit Bank of Turkey are at the head of the queue, as they are yet to finalize deals that entered syndication in July, days before the nation’s crisis began.

“The situation is definitely worse than other crises that Turkey has been through,” said Reza Karim, a London-based credit analyst at Jupiter Asset Management. “Pricing will certainly have to be changed.”

The Turkish bank loans will provide a key test of the nation’s ability to tap overseas debt markets amid US sanctions that have cooled the economy, driven the lira to record lows and pushed yields on sovereign bonds maturing in March to about 9%. Local crises have previously forced pricing concessions by Turkish banks, which have borrowed at least once or twice a year from the same pool of overseas lenders for decades.

“We expect loan pricings to go up,” said Okan Akin, a London-based credit analyst with AllianceBernstein. “It’s only logical that every Turkish asset would have to be repriced reflecting new market realities.”

The nation’s banks traditionally get dollar loans because rates are lower than in the lira market. Local companies borrowing these funds then face a currency risk as they have to use lira revenues to repay dollar debt.

  Loan Marketing

Akbank, Isbank and Export Credit Bank all marketed loans at an all-in pricing of no more than 165 basis points above benchmark rates before the turmoil began, including a margin of as much as 130 basis points for dollar commitments.

The subsequent US-Turkish standoff—centered on a detained American pastor—has since sparked a rout in Turkish assets. The cost of insuring Akbank’s debt using five-year credit-default swaps has doubled since April to 684 basis points, according to Certified Management Accountant data.

 Government Support

Lenders may have to seek support from the government or central bank in the event of a “prolonged closure” of the wholesale market, or else “materially deleverage”, Moody’s Investors Service said in an Aug. 28 note as it downgraded 20 Turkish financial institutions.

The nation’s lenders had about $186 billion of foreign currency funding as of June, equal to about 75% of total wholesale funds, according to Moody’s. The banks need to refinance $77 billion of foreign-currency wholesale bonds and syndicated loans, or 41% of total market funding, within the next year, the ratings provider said.

Turkey’s crisis also poses risks to European lenders with investments in local banks including Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, BNP Paribas SA, UniCredit SpA and ING Groep NV. BBVA generates about 14% of profit from a stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS.

  Muddling Through

Turkish banks have previously paid up to get loans done. Last year, the borrowers increased loan margins to more than 100 basis points from around 55 basis points in 2016 after a failed coup and ratings downgrades rattled markets. In 2012, they increased pricing by about 30 basis points to woo European lenders, which were then reducing exposure and increasing capital.

 “Turkey has historically been able to muddle through political turmoil and raise funds,” Karim said.

Still, with no sign of relations thawing with the US and continued pressure on the lira, there’s little to suggest that the country’s economic troubles will ease anytime soon. That may prompt overseas banks to reassess what were previously near-automatic rollovers of syndicated loans, Paul McNamara, a London-based fund manager at GAM UK Ltd., said on Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast.

  Inflation Hits 18%

Turkey’s central bank vowed to take action after inflation hit its highest pace in 15 years, fueling expectations that it will raise interest rates next week, but analysts questioned how far the institution could defy President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s prescription of lending on the cheap, MarketWatch reported.

Turkish annual consumer-price inflation hit 17.9%, up from July’s reading of 15.9%, as higher transport and energy costs were affected by a sharply weaker Turkish lira, the state statistics agency said Monday.

Minutes later, the central bank said the August reading posed a serious risk to price stability.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints