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Wed 11 Jan 2012 12:20 PM

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QNB last buyer standing for Denizbank as bank sales flounder

HSBC among banks that have dropped out of bidding race for Turkish lender

QNB last buyer standing for Denizbank as bank sales flounder
Denzia has struggled in the wake of the eurozone debt crisis

Qatar National Bank is the last serious bidder for Turkey’s
Denizbank AS after the withdrawal of HSBC Holdings and OAO Sberbank, people
familiar with the process said, underscoring the difficulty banks face
offloading businesses amid Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

QNB remains interested in Denizbank, the Turkish unit of the
Franco-Belgian lender Dexia, and a deal could be reached this month if talks
are successful, the people said.

The parties may still fail to complete a deal, one of the
people said, declining to be identified because the discussions are private.

Denizbank is the latest bank asset to struggle to find
buyers
as the region’s fiscal woes continue and some of the world’s largest
financial institutions seek to raise cash by divesting units and portfolios.
Lenders including Deutsche Bank and France’s Societe Generale have announced
plans to shed more than $1 trillion in assets, according to Bloomberg data.

“You certainly have a deleveraging process going on across
Europe right now, and it’s an accelerating process” as banks work to meet
deadlines for raising capital later this year, said Matthew Czepliewicz, an
analyst at Collins Stewart in London.

With few large financial institutions in a position to make
major acquisitions, that leaves buyers who “aren’t the usual suspects,” such as
Middle Eastern banks, among the only candidates willing and able to do deals,
he added.

HSBC, based in London, has withdrawn its bid for Denizbank,
people with knowledge of the process said yesterday, following a similar
decision by Sberbank last month due to what it said were “uncertain market
conditions.”

“No official information has come to us from the interested
parties about reports and comments in the media,” Denizbank said in a filing
with the Istanbul Stock Exchange today. “The sale process is continuing.”

Spokesmen for QNB, HSBC and Dexia declined to comment on the
Denizbank process.

The Turkish lender was put up for sale last autumn as part
of a rescue plan undertaken by the French and Belgian governments for Dexia
after the debt crisis reduced the bank’s ability to obtain funding. The
Brussels-based firm is putting its most troubled assets into a so-called bad
bank and trying to sell profitable units, including Denizbank, to raise cash.

Turkey has been a popular target for deals in recent years
as foreign companies look to tap its $735bn economy, which grew 8.2 percent in
the third quarter of last year - a pace faster than that of any Group of 20
country except China.

Still, even bank assets in faster-growing economies are more
difficult to sell as buyers stick to the sidelines. Last month Banco Commercial
Portugues opted to keep its Polish unit after initiating a sale process that
people familiar with the process said had seen bidders drop out.

European banks will need to raise €114.7bn in capital as
part of measures introduced in response to the region’s sovereign-debt crisis,
the European Banking Authority said last month, €8bn more than the regulator
had estimated in October.

The agency has given the region’s lenders until June 30 to
increase core Tier 1 capital, a measure of banks’ financial resilience, to 9
percent as a buffer against the sovereign-debt crisis.

The EBA set a Jan 20 deadline for banks to submit money-raising
plans to supervisors. Those that fail to raise enough capital on their own will
have to turn to their governments or the European Financial Stability Facility,
the euro region’s bailout fund.

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