In what is surely the most stealthy version of Wednesday humor we have ever posted, Bloomberg reports that according to Yigit Bulut, chief adviser to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Turkey should consider "using a new wealth fund or a group of state-owned banks to buy" the embattled Deutsche Bank. Bulut made the proposal on Tuesday via his Twitter account, saying Germany’s largest lender should be made into a Turkish bank.
"For months on TV programs, I’ve been calling on Turkey’s private and public capital: ‘Some very good companies in the EU are going to fall into trouble and we need to be ready to buy a controlling stake in them,’” Bulut wrote on Twitter. "Wouldn’t you be happy to make Germany’s biggest bank into a Turkish bank!!" the advisor said, cited by Bloomberg.
Aside from the farcically comical overtones of the proposal, the suggestion will likely infurate Germany and may ignite political opposition in Europe's strongest economy, where Deutsche Bank has long been viewed as a national champion and has played an integral role in Germany’s economy.
Going with the flow, Bloomberg does a "serious" analysis of the proposal and notes that Turkey’s financial industry, long viewed as a source of strength for the $700 billion economy, "has suffered some loss of market confidence over the past few years."
The market capitalization of the country’s publicly traded lenders stands just above $49 billion, roughly the size of General Motors Co. and about half what it was in 2013, while that of Deutsche Bank is almost $17 billion. Banking assets in the country amounted to about $836 billion at the end of July, while Deutsche Bank had total assets of 1.63 trillion euros ($1.83 trillion) at the end of last year.
Yeah, the numbers don't really work but that's the smallest issue facing the "contemplated" transaction. There is a bigger problem.
Back in July, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that the government was planning to form a wealth fund to finance investments in infrastructure mega-projects, stabilize markets and keep growth on track. The fund could be as large as $200 billion, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said in August, without providing details on where its money would come from.
And here is the issue: Turkey's wealth fund does not exist, and considering the urgent nature of DB's troubles, this may prove to be a modest hurdle.
"Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund is still in the works, but the critical problem at this stage is that while it is ‘sovereign,’ the key bit it lacks is the ‘wealth,’" Timothy Ash, a credit strategist at Nomura International Plc in London, said in an e-mail on Wednesday. "I am not sure that Turkey’s state-owned banks would want to be saddled with Deutsche Bank’s balance sheet at this stage -- they possibly have enough problems/challenges with their own in the context of the domestic growth slowdown."
While Turkey's "consideration" whether or not to buy Deutsche Bank will sadly go nowhere, "sadly" for the purely comedic value that would ensue as Turkey is straddled with some €42 trillion in derivatives, one person who would be delighted from such an outcome is Angela Merkel herself, who is now caught between the political hammering that would ensue from any state bailout on one hand, and on the other risks collapsing the global financial system should Deutsche Bank indeed be "Lehmaned", as the worse case scenario has been dubbed by seom.