Turkey to transfer opposition Isbank stake to treasury: Erdogan

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a millitary ceremony in Isparta, Turkey October 12, 2018. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party will push through parliament a law transferring to the treasury the main opposition party's shares in Isbank ISCTR.IS, Turkey's largest listed lender, Erdogan said on Saturday.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) owns a 28 percent stake in Isbank, bequeathed to it by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic.

Erdogan made the comment after pro-government newspaper Sabah reported earlier on Saturday that AKP was in the process of drawing up a draft law facilitating the transfer.

“We as the AK Party will bring this issue to parliament. Thankfully the MHP said it will give its support,” Erdogan told a rally in central Turkey’s Kayseri province, referring to his party’s nationalist allies.

“God willing we will push this through parliament and secure the transfer of this stake to the Turkish Republic’s treasury,” he said.

The AK Party has 290 seats in parliament and along with the MHP’s 50 seats has a comfortable majority needed to pass legislation in the 600 seat assembly. The CHP has 144 seats.

Isbank shares opened 2.4 percent lower on Thursday after Erdogan’s comments in the media that the treasury should take over the CHP stake.

Erdogan has previously voiced concern about a political party controlling a large stake of a major bank and said authorities should look into CHP members serving on Isbank’s board.

Turkey is due to hold local elections in March next year.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Clelia Oziel