Istanbul bourse in talks with foreign exchanges -sources

Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:26am EST

* Istanbul seeks role as regional financial hub

* Govt plans to privatise bourse

* Exchange seeking partners, possible stake sale

By Asli Kandemir

ISTANBUL, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Istanbul Stock Exchange (IMKB) is in talks with several international bourses about technology sharing and a possible stake sale as Turkey seeks to carve out a role as a regional financial hub, sources familiar with the plans said.

Turkey is bringing its stock, gold and derivatives exchanges under one roof - to be called Bourse Istanbul - as part of a government plan to privatise the bourse.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said it was talking to potential partners including CME Group Inc, Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext.

The exchange has been trying to boost its attractiveness to investors, introducing new products such as single stock futures and options last year, and has said it wants strategic partners to help with its expansion.

"NYSE has been talking to IMKB but the talks are not very advanced. They're exploring a range of topics including buying a stake in the exchange, providing technology and possibly cross-listing stocks," one of the sources said.

A second source said the talks with Deutsche Boerse were for now focused more on cooperation, rather than a stake sale.

"The most important thing here is that IMKB management has to decide how much of a stake they are going to sell," a third source said.

"It is not yet clear whether they will sell a small portion to more than one investor or a bigger stake to a strategic investor," he said.

Deutsche Boerse, NYSE and CME officials declined to comment.

Turkey was Europe's fastest growing economy in 2011, expanding 8.5 percent and, although a slump in domestic demand slowed growth last year, it is still a healthier economy than many in debt-choked Europe and the turbulent Middle East.

Foreign investors hold around two-thirds by value of shares on the Istanbul exchange, one of the world's best performing markets last year with gains of more than 50 percent, compared to just 15 percent in global emerging markets.