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Turkey's wealth fund focused on petrochemicals, mining, CEO says

ISTANBUL, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Turkey’s $240-billion sovereign investment company is focused on domestic petrochemical, mining and insurance investments to bolster the economy in the next few years before turning its attention abroad, its CEO Zafer Sonmez told Reuters.

Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF) is directing investments to sectors that would help Turkey overcome long-running structural challenges such as current-account and savings deficits, and also short-term fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Sonmez, who took the fund’s reins two years ago, said he aims to have several foreign offices within five years including in London and in African countries, the first of which will open in China in a year.

“As the TVF, we are focusing domestically in our investments in this period. Within a few years, we will also put into effect foreign investments,” he said in an interview.

“We will have maybe 25-30% of our assets under management invested overseas, but not today. Our focus is on the local economy, the new economy plan,” he added.

Two economic contractions in as many years have laid bare Turkey’s reliance on imports and cheap foreign credit, and halted a string of boom years under President Tayyip Erdogan. The lira has lost half its value since the beginning of 2018.

Turkey’s economy contracted 9.9% in the second quarter as a lockdown brought activity to a near standstill, its worst year-over-year performance in a decade, but has since begun to recover. ($1 = 7.8869 liras) (Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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