UPDATE 1-Malaysian state fund buys 90 pct stake in Turkey's Acibadem
* Khazanah Nasional pays $252 mln for 90 pct stake
* Abraaj divests its entire stake in Acibadem Sigorta
* Mehmet Ali Aydinlar to retain 10 pct stake in health insurer
* Abraaj sees "enormous opportunities" in Turkey
DUBAI/KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 (Reuters) - Malaysia's state-run investment fund will buy a 90 percent stake in Turkish health insurer Acibadem Sigorta for $252 million, ending a race between global firms which underscored appetite among international investors for the fast-growing sector.
Khazanah Nasional Berhad said it had agreed to acquire the entire 50 percent stake held by Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Group and a 40 percent stake held by Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, the founder of Turkey's Acibadem health group.
Aydinlar will retain 10 percent of the health insurer after Khazanah's unit Avicennia Capital completes the purchase, Khazanah and Abraaj said in statements on Monday.
Acibadem Sigorta has the second-largest market share in the Turkish health insurance sector, and at the end of 2012 it had a share of just over 10 percent, Khazanah and Abraaj said.
Banking sources told Reuters last week that Sompo Japan Insurance and British medical services group Bupa were in the race to buy a stake in Acibadem Sigorta.
Turkey's economy, the fastest growing in Europe in 2011, expanded by less than 3 percent last year but its relatively young and growing population of 75 million is regarded as under-insured.
Turkish health insurance premiums were up 7.7 percent at 678 million lira ($352 million) in the first two months of 2013. Acibadem Sigorta's premium income grew 22 percent to 150 million lira in the same period, making it the largest gainer in health premiums, according to the Insurance Association of Turkey.
Last year, health insurance premiums grew 12 percent to 2.24 billion lira and Acibadem Sigorta's premium income jumped 36 percent to 230.3 million lira.
Allianz, Europe's biggest insurer, bought Turkish insurer Yapi Kredi Sigorta from Turkish lender Yapi Kredi Bank in March for 1.6 billion lira to secure a bigger slice of a fast-expanding market.
The Acibadem Sigorta acquisition complements Avicennia's acquisition of an insurance joint venture between CIMB and Aviva in Malaysia in early 2013, the fund said. Khazanah's portfolio of insurance assets includes Singapore ACR Capital Holdings, which specialises in conventional and Islamic reinsurance.
The chief executive of Abraaj, the Middle East's largest private equity firm whose investment in Acibadem Sigorta dates back to 2007, said it would continue investing in Turkey.
"We love investing in Turkey. It's one of our main focus markets," Arif Naqvi told Reuters. "We see enormous opportunities out there," he said.
Just over 18 months ago Abraaj, which manages around $7.5 billion in assets, sold its stake in Turkey's largest hospital chain Acibadem Saglik to Integrated Healthcare Holdings, another unit of Khazanah, in a deal valuing the chain at $1.68 billion.