Assembly first step of shift at Istanbul bourse

The Istanbul Stock Exchange prepares to begin the new year with a renewed and widened board, a first step for a transition period. The government wants to reshape the bourse before putting it back into the hands of the market actors, says Hüseyin Erkan, the outgoing bourse head, who also eyes re-election

The general assembly of the Istanbul Stock Exchange (İMKB) convenes today at an extraordinary meeting to elect three additional board members and make crucial decisions on the future of the bourse.

The assembly is necessitated by the Turkish government’s surprise Nov. 3 decree that shortened the duty duration of the board chairman to four years from five and members to three years from four, a move that automatically ends the mandates of the current board as of Jan. 1, 2012. The same decree also called for the number of the board members to increase to seven from the current four.

Government targets

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan aims to transfer the Istanbul bourse into a regular corporation as soon as possible, said Hüseyin Erkan, the bourse head readying to leave its post by the yearend in an Anatolia news agency interview.

Erkan is also ready to take new roles and responsibilities if there would be any position offered to him in the future, he told reporters at last week’s Global Entrepreneurship Week in the Istanbul bourse.

 “I have the right to be elected as well as the current board members,” Erkan said, adding that the regulation of government had “nothing to do with the individuals but the transforming the institution. “If I would be elected and appointed again, I would respect the decision,” he said.

Turkish government’s steps regarding the transformation İMKB is a part of an overall move to turn Istanbul into an international finance center, according to Erkan. In a recent interview, Babacan also said Turkish government changed the structure of the İMKB aiming to reform the bourse during a transition process before letting it to the “hands of market mechanisms.”

“It is a sharp shift,” Atilla Köksal, the head of The Association of the Capital Market Intermediary Institution of Turkey, told reporters yesterday. The transformation process of the institution should be completed as soon as possible, Köksal said.

“The change might work well if the bourse will reach the level of the stock exchanges of developed countries,” he said, adding a warning that it would be beneficial if the transformation took longer than 2-3 years.

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