May 8, 2018 / 2:50 PM / 6 months ago

German firm may finish Turkish construction halted after coup - fund head

KAYSERI, Turkey, May 8 (Reuters) - The Turkish state fund that manages seized companies is in advanced talks with a German firm about completing building projects halted after the 2016 coup attempt, the head of the TMSF savings and deposit insurance fund said on Tuesday.

Turkish authorities seized the assets of, or took management control over, 960 companies worth 50.3 billion lira ($11.7 billion) for suspected links to the failed coup, Muhiddin Gulal said. The seized companies employed around 48,000 people, he said.

Ankara blames the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the attempted putsch. Gulen, who has lived in the United States since 1999, has denied the charges. His followers had been active in Turkish business, running companies spanning mining to financial services.

Two major construction groups, Dumankaya and Fi Yapi, halted building work on housing complexes after the companies were taken over by authorities.

The TMSF is now in talks with a German firm to take over those projects, Gulal said, without naming the company.

“A Germany-based group has committed to complete unfinished housing projects. The talks are at the final stage, we will take action within 10 days,” he told a news conference in the central Turkish province of Kayseri.

Turkish authorities have detained 160,000 since the failed coup and sacked a similar number of civil servants, according to a United Nations report this year.

Separately, Turkey will introduce steps to reduce a backlog of unsold homes, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Monday, in an attempt to fend off a decline in housing sales.

The plan would likely include reduction of interest rates on mortgage loans, banking sources said.

Construction has helped drive Turkey’s strong economic growth for years, but the industry has been hit by declining demand and the post-coup crackdown.

Total housing sales declined 14 percent in March, official data showed last month. ($1 = 4.2950 liras) (Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by David Dolan and Adrian Croft)

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