* Bank posts net loss of 301 mln lira in third quarter
* Deposits almost halve, assets fall 40 pct
* Lender caught up in political power struggle (Adds fresh comment from chief executive, vice president)
By Ebru Tuncay
ISTANBUL, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Turkey’s Bank Asya reported a net loss in the third quarter partly due to a rise in bad loans and said it was hopeful of a turnaround following the political turmoil that has surrounded it this year.
The Islamic bank made a 301 million lira ($133 million) net loss after a 60 million lira profit a year earlier.
Assets of 16.5 billion lira at the end of the third quarter were down 40 percent from the end of 2013, while deposits almost halved to 10.07 billion over the same period. Net non-performing loans more than tripled year-on-year to 1.4 billion lira by the end of the third quarter.
Bank Asya, with more than one million deposit-holders and around 280 branches, has been caught in a power struggle between President Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric whose sympathisers founded the bank.
Chief Executive Ahmet Beyaz said a capital adequacy ratio of 18.32 percent, one of the highest in the industry and above the sector average of around 16 percent, and its 2.2 billion lira equity capital meant its operations were healthy.
“We can say the worst is now over,” he told an investor call on Tuesday.
Erdogan has accused Gulen, now based in the United States, of seeking to overthrow him by staging a corruption scandal and has pledged to purge institutions such as the police and judiciary of his supporters.
Gulen, via his official websites, denied any involvement.
Seeking to show loyalty to Erdogan, depositors including state-owned firms and institutions this year withdrew 4 billion lira ($1.75 billion), or some 20 percent of Bank Asya’s total deposits, according to media reports.
The bank has declined to comment on those figures.
Loyal clients have been battling to shore up the bank against what they say is a government-orchestrated bid to scuttle it, selling everything from their sofas to their wedding rings.
“We hope 2015 will be a fresh start with a clean balance sheet leaving the asset quality issues behind,” Executive Vice President Feyzullah Egriboyun said, forecasting lower non-performing loans next quarter.
Bank Asya shares are currently subject to restricted trading for a few hours a day. They fell 3 percent to 0.65 lira on Tuesday afternoon.
1 U.S. dollar = 2.2639 Turkish lira Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Jason Neely and Jane Merriman