Citigroup has become the latest Western bank to launch an equities business in Turkey with the acquisition of broker Opus. Citi has had offices in Turkey since 1975, but now it will be able to work on local deals without using an intermediary broker.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group, UBS AG have all bought local brokers during the past 18 months in order to obtain brokerage licenses.
Nick Harwood, head of equities for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Citigroup, said the acquisition is an important step in the bank's continuing investment in emerging markets, commenting that emerging markets comprise a growing component of their clients' investment remit. The development of Citigroup’s Turkey equity franchise re-iterates Citi's commitment to emerging markets and compliments their well-established businesses in the Middle East, Russia, South Africa, and Poland
Banks have been flocking to tap into Turkey's liquid and rapidly growing market. In May of this year, Credit Suisse bought equity broker Baran Securities, giving Credit Suisse a broker-dealer licence on the Istanbul Stock Exchange.
Merrill Lynch set up operations in the country in February and is expanding its Turkish team. In June, ING Group agreed to buy Turkey's Oyak Bank for $2.7 billion. In November 2006, Morgan Stanley bought broker Degerler whilst Citigroup acquired a 20% stake in Akbank, Turkey’s largest private bank for $3.1 billion.