Turkey’s Sovereign Fund Allots at Least $1 Billion to Boost Stock-Market Heavyweights

As reported by Bloomberg, Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund plans to channel cash into the nation’s main stock exchange via exchange-traded funds.  The aim is to prevent the equity market from declining ahead of the polls expected on May 14th and the sovereign wealth fund’s support will dwarf earlier measures in size.

The fund, known by its Turkish initials TVF, will allocate at least $1 billion initially to ETFs run by a state bank as reported by people who spoke to Bloomberg and familiar with the matter.

The plan is to use ETFs currently run by Ziraat Portfoy, the asset-management arm of state lender T.C. Ziraat Bankasi A.S., the people said, asking not to be identified because of sensitivity of the matter. The funds track the performance of various indexes related to the Borsa Istanbul. Ziraat Portfoy declined to comment and TVF didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the planned investments.

The move differs from previous attempts to support equities since the Borsa Istanbul resumed trading following a halt caused by two devastating earthquakes on Feb. 6. The government initially channeled pension funds’ money into the stock market to reverse the rout after the natural disaster.

The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index erased losses of as much as 1.6% after the news to trade little changed as of 1:20 p.m. in Istanbul. The index is up more than 12% since it reopened on Feb. 15 after a weeklong closure following the earthquakes.

Domestic investors have become the dominant force on the Borsa Istanbul in the past several years as they sought protection against rampant inflation, a development that has also made small local investors politically influential.

Dividends, Borrowing

The exact size of the fund at its inauguration will be determined once all the TVF companies, such as Turkish Airlines, report 2022 earnings, one of the people said. The cash pool may gradually grow beyond the estimated initial amount of $1 billion, said the person as per the Bloomberg news.

The TVF gets cash in the form of dividends from the companies in which it holds stakes. It’s also active in debt markets and can create funds through borrowing in liras and foreign currencies.

Ziraat has several ETFs tracking Turkey’s main stock exchange, with some focusing on large companies only, such as those listed in the Borsa Istanbul 30 index. Ziraat Portfoy’s BIST 30 Index Fund, the biggest local ETF for Turkish stocks, has already seen 8.1 billion liras ($430 million) in inflows since Feb. 15, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ziraat Portfoy's ETF Has Drawn Sizeable Inflows Recently | ETF attracted more than 8 billion liras since Feb. 15

The Istanbul exchange’s main index, the BIST 100, has a market cap of about $220 billion. Average trading volume in the past month was about $3.8 billion a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.