* Halkbank, Turk Telekom shares down
* Lira weakest in 3-months against eur/dlr basket (Adds quotes, companies, fresh prices)
By Seltem Iyigun
ISTANBUL, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Turkish assets eased on Thursday when shares in Halkbank and Turk Telekom fell around four percent after Turkey’s privatisation agency said it had mandated banks to sell public stakes.
Shares in state-run Halkbank closed down 4.95 percent at 15.35 lira ($8.5) while shares in Turkey’s main landline operator Turk Telekom closed down 2.38 percent at 7.32 lira, after the agency’s statement.
Turkey’s privatisation agency said it had chosen Citi and FinansInvest to advise on plans to reduce the state’s stake in lender Halkbank but said no timing or strategy had yet been decided.
“Although the method and timing of the privatisation has not been announced yet, the market reacted negatively following the news considering the possibility of an SPO (secondary public offering), which may apply further pressure on the share performance,” wrote analysts at Ata Invest.
The privatisation agency said it will choose an advisor for Turk Telekom.
“The secondary public offering of the bank will solely be dependent on the market conditions, in our view, and a right time in terms of the valuations-appetite-liquidity-not overlapping with a major share issue by another emerging markets will be chased by the administration,” wrote analysts at Is Investment.
Shares in Turkey’s biggest mobile phone operator Turkcell rose as much as 2.3 percent after a regulatory change raised hopes of an end to deadlock among its major investors.
The Turkish Capital Markets Board (SPK) said listed firms which had failed to assign independent board members by the end of June could face legal action forcing them to do so.
Turkcell’s biggest shareholders have been unable to agree on the composition of its board for the past two years, meaning it has not distributed dividends in that time.
Turkcell shares pared some of their early gains to close up 0.47 percent at 10.80 lira, outperforming Istanbul’s main share index, which dipped 1.31 percent to 67,290 points at the close of trading. The MSCI emerging markets index was down 0.1 percent.
The Turkish lira hit 2.0765 against its euro-dollar basket in early trade, its weakest level since June 5 as an easier monetary policy outlook pushed investors to sell lira. It stood at 2.0725 in late trade, from 2.0693 on Wednesday.
Against the dollar, it slightly eased to 1.8096, from 1.8085 late on Wednesday.
Turkey’s central bank said late in August it could start cutting rates sooner than expected. A Reuters poll showed investors expected it to cut the upper end of its interest rate corridor, the overnight lending rate, by 100 basis points to 10.5 percent, at its next policy meeting on Sept. 18.
Traders also said local companies were buying dollars to pay their import bills.
The yield on Turkey’s two-year benchmark bond closed at 7.37 percent, up from a previous close at 7.33 percent. Since late August it has fallen around 60 basis points to a 20-month low on expectations of aggressive rate cuts by the central bank. ($1 = 1.8075 Turkish liras) (Writing by Seltem Iyigun; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ron Askew)