Friday, 24 January 2014

Fresh into the dairy industry, Abraaj eyes new opportunities in Turkey

Impressed by Turkey’s strong economic foundations, robust demographics, growing middle class and geostrategic location, Dubai-based private equity investor, the Abraaj Group, is set to continue investing in Turkey.

The group has invested in eight Turkish companies to date in a number of sectors including healthcare, energy, yacht building and the food industry. Its latest acquisition of the majority stake in dairy products maker Yorsan has given the Dubai-based investor a solid foothold in Turkey’s growing food industry and a new opportunity to reach surrounding markets.

“The Yorsan acquisition shows Abraaj’s commitment to long-term investments in Turkey. The country has experienced rapid growth in the last decade and will continue to do so. The combination of favorable demographics, an expanding middle class with an increasing purchasing power and key geographic location equals an ideal investment location. Abraaj actively seeks new investment opportunities in Turkey” said the Abraaj Founder, Arif Naqvi, following the company’s latest investment in Turkey.


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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Saudi Al-Hokair Group signs master franchise deal with Simit Sarayı

The Al-Hokair Group, whose name has been associated with entertainment and tourism in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world since its establishment in 1965, has recently signed a master franchise agreement with Turkish Simit Sarayı, the aim being to open 100 new restaurants in the Middle East.

Simit, a ring of chewy bread coated with toasted sesame seeds, is one of the most widely consumed food products in Turkey, and Simit Sarayı is the best-known chain in Turkey to sell simit and related food products.

According to the deal, the Saudi group plans to open 100 Simit Sarayı restaurants by 2018 in countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan.

Noting that the company has decided to speed up its investments in the Middle East due to a high demand for the company's products in the region, Simit Sarayı CEO Abdullah Kavukçu said: “There is huge interest in simit in the region, and they love our brand. Our restaurant in Mecca, which opened in 2012, attracts a lot of customers and is the highest-profiting of all our restaurants abroad. Consumers love simit and the other pastry products we offer. Therefore, we have decided to sign an agreement with the Al-Hokair Group.”

Kavukçu also explained that the company aims to become a global brand and introduce simit and other Turkish pastry products to the world. “We receive 800 franchise proposals every month, on average, most of which come from abroad. We plan to open new restaurants in the UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Jordan in 2014 and aim to have 560 restaurants abroad in total by 2018,” Kavukçu stated.


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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Turkey's economy, diplomatic clout a big draw for Japan

TOKYO -- Japan is going all out to strengthen economic and political ties with Turkey, eager to tap the nation's growth and connections to Europe and the Middle East.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed during talks here Tuesday to officially launch negotiations for an economic partnership agreement as early as this spring.

"We will further enhance our long history of friendship between Japan and Turkey by working with Prime Minister Erdogan," emphasized Abe. Erdogan echoed the sentiment, pledging to promote projects commensurate with the strong ties of the two countries.

On the economic front, Japan will supply 43 billion yen ($407.9 million) in additional yen loans to an Istanbul railway project, on top of the more than 150 billion yen already provided to build a railway crossing the Bosporus Strait. Abe also announced Japan will supply fresh yen loans for Turkish hydroelectric plant facilities to be built with Japanese technology.

As for exporting Japanese nuclear reactors to Turkey, both leaders agreed to expedite parliamentary discussions to approve a bilateral civilian nuclear pact that will enable such transactions.

The latest summit between the two prime ministers was their third since Abe took the helm more than a year ago. Their meeting on Tuesday lasted about an hour and a half. When Erdogan noted that the value of trade between Japan and Turkey reaches less $4 billion a year, Abe asserted "there is room for further expansion."

Turkey has great potential for economic growth. The population, now at 76 million, is growing at an annual pace of 1 million, while its average age of around 30 sustains strong consumer spending. The nation, a vital production base for Europe, aims to expand its economy by some 2.4-fold from now to around 208 trillion yen in 2023.

Turkey's importance goes beyond its economy. The nation straddles both Europe and Asia, making it a strategic partner to Europe and the U.S. as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In light of its geographic proximity to Syria and Iran, Japan sees closer ties with Turkey as a way to develop leverage in the region.

Abe and Erdogan agreed to hold foreign minister meetings on a regular basis to discuss national security. The two nations will also work together to address the Syrian civil war and other diplomatic issues.

But such aggressive, top-level initiatives have also drawn criticism.

Under the planned nuclear pact, Japan is allowing Turkey to enrich and reprocess nuclear material shipped from Japan with some conditions -- actions prohibited under an agreement with the United Arab Emirates. But Japanese opposition parties are objecting to the arrangement, warning that uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing could lead to use in weapons applications.

Also a plan for the Turkish government and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to jointly develop engines for use in military tanks could infringe on Japan's ban on weapons exports. Tokyo will ask Ankara to obtain advance approval before transferring the engines to a third nation. But the Turkish side is said to be expressing reservations about such a requirement.


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Monday, 6 January 2014

The Mint countries: Next economic giants?

In 2001 the world began talking about the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O'Neill, who has now identified the "Mint" countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey - as emerging economic giants. Here he explains why.

So what is it about the so-called Mint countries that makes them so special? Why these four countries?

A friend who has followed the Bric story noted sardonically that they are probably "fresher" than the Brics. What they really share beyond having a lot of people, is that at least for the next 20 years, they have really good "inner" demographics - they are all going to see a rise in the number of people eligible to work relative to those not working.

This is the envy of many developed countries but also two of the Bric countries, China and Russia. So, if Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey get their act together, some of them could match Chinese-style double-digit rates between 2003 and 2008.

And as we all know, Turkey is in both the West and East. Nigeria is not really similar in this regard for now, partly because of Africa's lack of development, but it could be in the future if African countries stop fighting and trade with each other.

This might in fact be the basis for the Mint countries developing their own economic-political club just as the Bric countries did - one of the biggest surprises of the whole Bric thing for me. I can smell the possibility of a Mint club already.

In terms of wealth, Mexico and Turkey are at about the same level, earning annually about $10,000 (£6,100) per head. This compares with $3,500 (£2,100) per head in Indonesia and $1,500 (£900) per head in Nigeria, which is on a par with India. They are a bit behind Russia - $14,000 (£8,500) per head - and Brazil on $11,300 (£6,800), but still a bit ahead of China - $6,000 (£3,600).

I returned from my travels thinking it won't be so difficult for Nigeria and Turkey to positively surprise people, as many put far too much weight on the negative issues that are well-known - crime and corruption in Nigeria, for example, or heavy-handed government in Turkey.

Indonesia, I am less sure about. The country's challenges are as big as I thought and I didn't hear too many things that made me go "Wow" in terms of trying to deal with them. The country needs more of a sense of commercial purpose beyond commodities, and has to improve its infrastructure.

In Turkey, visits to white goods manufacturer Beko and Turkish Airlines, the world's fastest growing airline, definitely made me go "Wow", and in Nigeria, I was saying it all the time.

Source: BBC News (

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