Singer likely to buy PPI arm

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ISTANBUL (Reuter) - Singer, the leading US manufacturer and marketer of sewing machines, is the front-runner for the majority stake in Vestel, Polly Peck International's Turkish electronics and durables subsidiary, industry sources said.

Polly's administrators, Coopers & Lybrand, are expected to sell the 51 per cent stake in Vestel to Singer. The proceeds of the Vestel sale will go to creditors of Polly Peck, who are owed more than pounds 1.3bn.

In London, Coopers made no comment except to say they were talking to a number of potential buyers.

The sources said the administrators were expected to obtain approval from the creditors' committee due to the large amount involved in the deal, although it did not need to do so.

They gave no indication of how much the deal was worth.

In August, Vestel officials said negotiations were under way with European and Japanese firms for the stake, increased from a previous 25 per cent when no buyers emerged.

Vestel is the leading Turkish exporter of durables and electronics and the second-largest seller of these products within Turkey. The company raised its profits to 43.26bn lira ( pounds 3.5m) in the first half of this year, from 34.04bn in the same period of 1991. Assets were boosted by 53 per cent to 1,600bn lira in the first six months.

In June, Vestel sold 25 per cent stakes in its whitegoods producing and distributing units to Philco, a subsidiary of Italy's Merloni Elettrodomestici, for pounds 5m.

The company, which raised its capital to 391.5bn lira this year from 270bn, is investing almost pounds 10m to increase whitegoods capacity to one milion units from 150,000.