The National Bank of Greece, owner of Turkey’s Finansbank, has purchased the Crystal Tower in Istanbul for 303 million dollars, daily Hurriyet reported on Tuesday.

According to the Turkish daily, the property, a 170 meter high, 40-story skyscraper in the district of Levent in cental Istanbul, covers a 60,000 square meter area.

The deal was reported to be one of the largest conducted in the neighboring country’s property market over the last few years.

The report also noted that the Greek lender was expected to use the building to house the new Finansbank headquarters.

The property was sold by Kory Property Investments, a subsidiary of Turkey’s Soyak Group.

ritish insurer Aviva Plc and Turkey’s Sabanci Holding have mandated Citigroup and HSBC to sell between 20 and 25 percent of Turkish life and pensions joint venture Avivasa Emeklilik & Hayat Sigorta in an initial public offering, two sources told Reuters on Friday.

The share sale is not imminent as it is the subject of a feasibility study, one of the sources close to the matter said.

Aviva, Citi and HSBC declined to comment. Sabanci was not immediately available to comment.

Sabanci and Aviva may sell shares towards the end of 2014, Haluk Dincer, head of retail and insurance at Sabanci Holding, said on March 28.

Aviva is in the midst of a group wide restructuring led by Chief Executive Mark Wilson who joined the firm at the end of 2012 from Asian rival AIA, selling off non-core businesses, cutting costs and improving profitability.

The revamp has involved top level management changes and in October the group sold its U.S. business for $2.6 billion.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said a planned park to be built in the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul should be a “city park,” in response to earlier remarks about the plan referring to the park as the city’s “Central Park.”

“Why Central Park? Central Park does not suit Istanbul. A city park suits Istanbul. You don’t have to imitate someone. Let them imitate us,” said Erdoğan during a fast breaking dinner organized by the Istanbul Greater Municipality in the Haliç Congress Center in Istanbul on July 29.

Well-known singers and television figures, including Orhan Gencebay, Bülent Ersoy, Acun Ilıcalı, Doğuş, Murat Göğebakan, Demet Akalın and Şafak Sezer, were also present at the fast-breaking dinner.

Erdoğan’s remarks came two days after Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said they would build a huge park in Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul similar to Central Park in New York, speaking after a fast-breaking dinner in Sultanahmet Square.

“When the Veliefendi Hippodrome is officially registered as closed to construction, following the 500,000-square-meter Çırpıcı Meadow, this area will total 1 million square meters. This is the biggest open area in Istanbul city center. We will build a park similar to Central Park and significant parks in Europe. This is just the beginning, and our work will continue,” Topbaş told reporters after the fast-breaking dinner in Sultanahmet Square late July 27.

At the beginning of his speech, Erdoğan offered his condolences to the family and relatives of Sinan Yılmaz, the police officer who was killed at a terrorist attack in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

Erdoğan also spoke about his meeting with the families of the 34 people killed in an airstrike on Dec. 28, 2011, in the Uludere district of southeastern province of Şırnak.

“Lives are lost there [in Uludere]… They are parts of our hearts. But we should not forget the soldiers killed in attack on a military mission in Hantepe,” Erdoğan said of his meeting with the Uludere victims’ families.

“We are sorry for them [Uludere victims] at least as much as their families, we shed tears. We do not do politics over the funerals. All deaths will be investigated in detail. Independent jurisdiction will bring those responsible to account,” he added.

The anti-government protests in Turkey “will have no bearing” on Istanbul’s ability to host the 2020 Olympics, the bid committee said Wednesday.

The Olympic bid has been rattled by the nearly two weeks of protests that began in Istanbul and spread to dozens of other cities. It’s the biggest test yet in the 10-year rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Istanbul, making its fifth bid for the Olympics, is competing against Madrid and Tokyo. The IOC will select the host city Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The pictures and television images of the violence in Istanbul’s Taksim Square — including riot police firing tear gas and water cannons at protesters — have tarnished Turkey’s image abroad and raised serious challenges for the Olympic bid.

The bid committee issued a statement Wednesday insisting that the feedback from IOC members and other Olympic officials has been positive and understanding.

“While they are obviously as keen as we are for a swift and peaceful resolution, the majority of people we have spoken to recognize that 2020 is still seven years away,” the statement said.

The committee also sought to dispel doubts that Istanbul, if awarded the games, would be able to carry out all the necessary construction work in the face of possible protests.

“This situation will have no bearing on our ability to deliver our games concept,” the statement said, adding that the project was designed in consultation with environmental groups and non-governmental organizations.

“That consultation process will continue in partnership with the national and municipal authorities throughout the construction program,” it said.

The committee said the bid has the backing of the Turkish public, citing the most recent IOC survey — conducted months before the unrest — showing 83 percent support in Istanbul.

“This is a bid for the people of Turkey and we are united by our passion to bring the games here for the first time,” the statement said. “Istanbul 2020, and the 20-year dream of the Turkish people, will not be affected by these events.”

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo will make bid presentations this weekend to the Association of National Olympic Committees in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Istanbul bid group said it would “provide assurances” to the assembly.

Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister in charge of relations with the European Union, said large cities all over the world can experience protests.

“No one should use these protests — that show the strength of the civil society dynamics in Turkey — against Turkey,” he said at a sports business convention in Istanbul on Tuesday night. “We love all our citizens. We embrace them and will continue to do so.

“This nation, this government, when it sets an ideal, it accomplishes it as long as it believes in itself. The Turkish nation believes that it can stage the 2020 Olympics. We always accomplish what we believe in.”

Turkey is also preparing to host the Olympic-style Mediterranean Games and soccer’s Under-20 World Cup.

“The current situation has in no way detracted from Turkey’s ability to deliver world-class sports events,” the Istanbul statement said.

The Mediterranean Games are scheduled for June 20-30 in the coastal city of Mersin, with thousands of athletes from two dozen countries expected to take part.

The 24-nation soccer tournament starts June 21 and will be played in seven cities in Turkey. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Wednesday the tournament would go ahead as scheduled.

Blatter said FIFA was in contact with Turkish “political authorities, especially with the security.” He added that “the guarantees have been given and I am sure that nothing will happen.”


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...