Borsa Istanbul chief Hakan Atilla resigns from his post


Hakan Atilla has resigned as managing director of Turkey’s leading exchange operator, a statement said on Monday.

The executive of former public lender Halkbank resigned “on its own initiative”, and the decision was accepted by the board of directors at Monday’s meeting, Istanbul Borsa Stock Exchange (BIST) said in a press release, without revealing any reason.

Atilla was released and returned to Turkey in July 2019 after serving a 32-month prison sentence in the United States after being accused of violating sanctions against Iran.

He was sentenced in January 2018 after another defendant, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, pleaded guilty and testified against him.

The Halkbank and Atilla cases have strained relations between NATO allies Ankara and Washington.

At the time, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized Atilla’s conviction, calling it a “politically motivated” decision without “any respect for the law”.

Upon arrival, Atilla was greeted by then-Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, and the government in October of the same year appointed him as the head of the exchange, owned by the Turkey Wealth Fund ( TWF).

It was recently reported that he is planning to step down after BIST’s annual general meeting on March 26.

He went on leave on March 5 and had no plans to return to work until shareholders met later this month, sources told Bloomberg.

Atilla was Deputy Managing Director of Halkbank from 2011 to 2018.

US prosecutors separately accuse the public lender of helping Iran evade sanctions. Halkbank pleaded not guilty charges laid in 2019.

Halkbank shares climbed to 5% after Monday’s announcement before recovering.

Borsa Istanbul plans initial public offering (IPO) by end of next yearTWF CEO Zafer Sönmez said in December.

Listing has been on the agenda since 2015 but was postponed because the stock market was waiting for a favorable moment to obtain a better value.

Analysts had said the size of the IPO could be around $ 400 million to $ 500 million if a third of the shares were offered to the public.

The fund in November sold 10% of the stock’s shares to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf State, for $ 200 million. After the sale, the fund owns 80.6% of the shares of Borsa Istanbul.

The stock exchange’s implied value in the QIA transaction was $ 2 billion.

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