March 25, 2010 / 12:27 PM / 9 years ago

GE has received non-binding bids for Garanti: sources

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - General Electric (GE.N) has received non-binding bids for its 20.85 percent stake in Turkey’s Garanti Bank (GARAN.IS), though due diligence has not yet started, sources close to the situation said on Thursday.

The stake, which offers a rare chance to buy into Turkey’s attractive banking sector, is worth some $3.7 billion. It would not give control of the bank to the buyer.

Russia’s Sberbank SBER03.MM was interested in the stake, a source said earlier this month, but no banks have come forward publicly to declare their interest. There has also been speculation that private equity funds might be interested in acquiring part of the stake.

“Non-binding bids have been received. The due diligence stage will not have been reached before two weeks, and it could even take up to five to seven weeks. I don’t think the process will be over before June or July,” a source told Reuters.

The source declined to give any information on how many bids had been received.

Another separate source told Reuters that Turkey’s banking regulator would not allow the stake to be sold to funds whose holders were unknown, or funds held by multiple partners.

Shares in Garanti, Turkey's third-biggest bank, closed morning trade 2.84 percent higher at 7.25 lira, outperforming the benchmark index .XU100, which hit its highest level since December 2007 on Thursday.

The bank is just under 50 percent publicly traded, while Turkish conglomerate Dogus Group owns 30.5 percent and has the right of first refusal for the stake.

Reporting by Asli Kandemir and Hatice Aydogdu; Writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Hans Peters

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