Erdogan appoints himself head of Turkey wealth fund

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed himself chairman of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund and named his son-in-law and Finance Minister as deputy chairman. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Erdogan appoints himself head of Turkey wealth fund

  • The fund was established in August 2016 and tens of billions of dollars worth of state assets including — wholly state-owned — Ziraat Bank were transferred to it in 2017
  • The fund’s other assets include the state’s minority 49.12-percent shareholding in flag carrier Turkish Airlines, as well as state-owned enterprises such as the PTT Turkish post office

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday appointed himself the chairman of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund and named his son-in-law and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak as deputy chairman.
Zafer Sonmez, who was head of Turkey and Africa for Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, was named as the fund’s general manager in presidential decrees published in the official gazette.
One of Erdogan’s advisers mainly known for his outlandish statements, Yigit Bulut, was removed from the board, while new members included Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).
Erdogan last year said the fund needed a “reorganization” after the first chairman Mehmet Bostan was removed from his post in September 2017.
The fund was established in August 2016 and tens of billions of dollars worth of state assets including — wholly state-owned — Ziraat Bank were transferred to it in 2017.
The fund’s other assets include the state’s minority 49.12-percent shareholding in flag carrier Turkish Airlines, as well as state-owned enterprises such as the PTT Turkish post office.
Turkish Airlines is regarded as one of Turkey’s crown jewel assets and its size is set to grow further with the move to a giant new Istanbul airport as its main hub in October.
The fund was set up in the aftermath of the attempted overthrow of Erdogan in July 2016. Its establishment was seen as a way of tightening state control over Turkey’s assets.
Such funds can be used for large projects, maintaining pensions and national welfare programs, or in times of crisis.


French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

Updated 44 min 56 sec ago
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French state-owned bank drops plan to aid trade with Iran

  • US-imposed sanctions sanctions iare making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies - such as Volvo
  • US is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers

PARIS: French state-owned bank Bpifrance has abandoned its plan to set up a mechanism to aid French companies trading with Iran, in the face of US sanctions against Tehran.
Earlier this year, the bank had said it was working on a project to finance French companies that wished to export goods to Iran despite US sanctions.
“It’s put on hold,” said Nicolas Dufourcq, Bpifrance’s chief executive. “Conditions are not met (...) Sanctions are punitive for companies.”
Bpifrance was working on establishing euro-denominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers of French goods and services. By structuring the financing through vehicles without any US link, Bpifrance thought it was possible to avoid the extraterritorial reach of US legislation.
Dufourcq’s latest comments show how the scope of the sanctions is making trade with Iran increasingly difficult for European companies.

Swedish truckmaker Volvo has been forced to stop assembling trucks in Iran as it can no longer get paid with US sanctions taking bite.
Volvo spokesman Fredrik Ivarsson said due to the sanctions Volvo could no longer get paid for any parts it shipped and therefore had taken the decision to not operate in Iran.
"With all these sanctions and everything that the United States put.. the bank system doesn't work in Iran. We can't get paid... So for now we don't have any business (in Iran)," he said.
The US is renewing sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal forged in 2015 between Tehran and world powers. Washington reimposed some of the financial sanctions from Aug. 6, while those affecting Iran’s petroleum sector will come into force from Nov. 4.
Even though several European countries have said they are seeking to protect their companies from the sanctions, several major companies including oil company Total, Air France-KLM and British Airways have announced they would suspend activities in Iran.
German officials have in recent weeks advocated for the creation of an independent system for cross-border payments to make trade with Iran possible even with the US sanctions.
European Union diplomats have said US President Donald Trump’s positions on trade and on Iran were fueling a rethink about the EU’s dependency on the US financial system.
However, European countries appear to be struggling to find or agree on effective options to tackle the issue.