Turkish wealth fund to invest $10 bln in petrochemical refinery: Anadolu

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The Turkish wealth fund will invest around $10 billion for the construction of a petrochemical refinery in southern Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday, in a move it said was aimed at alleviating the country’s trade deficit.

Data on Monday showed Turkey’s trade deficit had more than tripled from a year ago to stand at $2.15 billion in November, according to a special trade system. Both exports and imports rose year-on-year, the data showed.

The Turkish Wealth Fund (TVF), worth $50 billion, was set up in 2016 by the government to develop and increase the value of Turkey’s strategic assets and provide resources for investment. Last year, President Tayyip Erdogan appointed himself chairman of the fund and completely changed its board.

Anadolu, citing information it obtained from the TVF, said the fund would to invest around $10 billion for the construction of a refinery and petrochemical complex in the southern province of Adana. It said that construction will begin in 2021.

The project will create 10,000 jobs during the construction period and another 5,000 jobs when the complex is operational, Anadolu said. It added that the project would contribute around $1.5 billion annually to Turkey’s trade deficit.

The TVF later confirmed to Reuters that it was planning a greenfield investment in the area, but did not provide further details.

The government has previously transferred to the TVF stakes worth billions of dollars of state assets, including stakes in flag carrier Turkish Airlines, major banks and fixed-line operator Turk Telekom.

In October, the fund’s general manager was quoted as saying the TVF wants to buy the 10 percent stake of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) in the Istanbul bourse. EBRD is set to sell its stake after the appointment of a former Halkbank executive who was jailed in the US as CEO of the stock exchange.