Turkish insurance shares jump after wealth fund takeover

ISTANBUL, April 24 (Reuters) - Shares in Turkish insurance companies jumped on Friday after the country’s sovereign wealth fund took over insurance and pension companies owned by state banks with a 6.54 billion lira ($938 million) investment.

The Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF) had said in December it would consolidate the firms within the TVF to raise their competitive power and expected to complete the step in the first quarter. On Wednesday evening, it announced the move was done.

Shares in Gunes Sigorta jumped 9.2% to 3.08 lira and Halk Sigorta climbed 5.14% to 3.68 lira. According to Eikon data, the free float of Gunes is 34.03% and that of Halk Sigorta is 4.68%.

The fund’s TVF Finansal Yatirimlar unit also bought the shares of Ziraat Sigorta and those of pension companies Vakif Emeklilik ve Hayat, Halk Hayat ve Emeklilik and Ziraat Hayat ve Emeklilik.

Among bank shares, Halkbank was up 0.2% and Vakifbank was 0.45% higher. The main Istanbul share index was 0.76% higher.

The wealth fund, worth some $50 billion, was set up in 2016 by the government to develop and increase the value of Turkey’s strategic assets and provide resources for investment.

The government has previously transferred to the TVF stakes worth billions of dollars in state assets including flag carrier Turkish Airlines, major banks and fixed-line operator Turk Telekom. ($=6.9720 lira) (Reporting by Ebru Tuncay and Ceyda Caglayan Writing by Daren Butler Editing by Ece Toksabay and Kim Coghill)