While the UAE receives much of the attention surrounding financial services in the Arab world, another country is also emerging as a source of employment growth in the industry: Turkey.
At the end of 2011 global recruitment firm Manpower Group was enthusiastic on the prospects for jobs in Turkey. “Turkish employers remain among the most confident in the world,” Turkey MD Ebru Cos said. Finance, insurance, real estate and business services were among sectors reporting the strongest hiring prospects.
It's not hard to see why. Turkeyis attracting interest from international employers.US private equity firm Carlyle is focusing its attention on Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for example.
Russian banks seem particularly interested. Anton Karamzin, Finance Director of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, said recently that the bank still planned “one or two” more acquisitions, in Turkey as well as Poland (although it’s worth noting that Sberbank pulled out of bidding for Denizbank, Dexia’s Turkish business, and earlier withdrew from negotiations for a stake in Turkey’s Garanti Bank.
Kaan Ukurer, who leads the Istanbul office for global executive search firm Spencer Stuart, and is a core member of the financial services and private equity practices says: “The sale of Denizbank by Dexia will likely be the largest transaction of the year and may result in executive moves. Now that Sberbank has pulled out of the running, Qatar National Bank looks like the likely contender for Denizbank.”
In yet another sign of Russia's interest in Turkey, Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital agreed late last year to acquire Turkish brokerage Mira Menkul Degerler, a deal which is expected to be about to be approved by the Turkish Capital Markets Board. According to Burak Akbulut, RenCap’s acting chief executive for Turkey, this is only the first step in gaining a solid foothold in Turkish capital markets.
Akbulut said RenCap wants to be active in, “all aspects of Turkish capital markets – brokerage, investment banking and initial public offerings. But initially, we’ll target trading and also will have a huge focus on research.”
VTB Capital is also following the trend. It recently brought in Ozan Özkural from Merrill Lynch to head its Turkish franchise.
Almost three million Russians are said to have gone to Turkey last year, suggesting the country is open to Russian talent in particular.
However, it's not just Russians who are wanted. For the broader picture, Mr Ukurer says: “The Turkish financial services market continues to have a pulse across the spectrum. Regulators are currently taking a close look at governance issues and are requiring banks to revise their board composition. On the investment banking side, M&A divisions are not hiring; however, the markets side, particularly fixed income, is seeing some activity.
Ukurer says he expects “to see moves in the insurance sector which is ripe for consolidation (due to a regulatory increase in reserve requirements which will force insurance companies to either inject more capital -not a popular option with shareholders given lack of technical profitability across the industry- or to raise capital through a corporate event).”