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The plan is to use ETFs currently run by Ziraat Portfoy, the asset-management arm of state lender T.C. Ziraat Bankasi A.S. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Istanbul: Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund plans to channel cash into the nation’s main stock exchange via exchange-traded funds, in an open-ended attempt to keep the equities market from falling.

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

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

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 sovereign wealth fund’s support will dwarf earlier measures in size. Domestic investors have become the dominant force on the Borsa Istanbul in the past several years as they sought protection against rampant inflation.

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.

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 February 15, according to Bloomberg data.

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 $160 million a day, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

Indexes tracking larger companies will likely be the priority target for the sovereign wealth fund and the buying program has no expiration date, the people said.