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Citigroup to sell stake in Turkey's Akbank before lock-up

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Citigroup is selling its stake in Akbank TAS, Turkey's second-largest bank by market value, after negotiating an early end to a lockup agreement as chief executive officer Michael Corbat streamlines the US lender.

[NEW YORK] Citigroup is selling its stake in Akbank TAS, Turkey's second-largest bank by market value, after negotiating an early end to a lockup agreement as chief executive officer Michael Corbat streamlines the US lender.

Citigroup offered 396 million shares, or 9.9 per cent of Akbank stock at 7.45 lira a share (US$2.89), the US-based firm said in a statement Thursday. Proceeds are expected to be about US$1.15 billion at the current exchange rate, it said. Akbank shares fell as much as 5 per cent in Istanbul trading today.

Corbat is shrinking the third-biggest US bank by assets, and announced a deal Tuesday to sell subprime lender OneMain Financial to Springleaf Holdings for US$4.25 billion in cash. Citigroup's sale to third parties terminates the three-year lockup it signed with Akbank's owner, Haci Omer Sabanci Holding AS, in April 2012. The accelerated equity offering was agreed to on Feb 19, Akbank said.

"As part of its ongoing capital-planning efforts, Citi has decided to focus on its core businesses and dispose of investments in companies where the bank has a minority stake," New York-based Citigroup said in an e-mailed statement. The move comes amid "the general improvement in equity capital markets globally," the bank said.

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The US lender said it will continue to serve corporate and commercial clients in Turkey, and has about 500 employees in the nation.

Spain's Banco Bilbao de Vizcaya Argentaria is boosting its stake in Akbank's main rival, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, known as Garanti. BBVA, based in Bilbao, announced in November that it would buy another 15 percent of the company, bringing its ownership to about 40 percent. Garanti is Turkey's largest publicly traded bank.

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