Esas Holding began when Emine Kamışlı left her post at Ak Sigorta and wanted to start her own business. Then her father Şevket Sabancı and her brother Ali Sabancı joined the group. Four years passed and now the holding has seven companies, a turnover of $300 million and employs 1,100 personnel. Emine Kamışlı says: “To date we have studied 300 companies and invested in nine of them.” She says that they are open to every company which has potential and a strong brand, particularly those in foodstuffs, retailing and health.
Ak Sigorta Managing Director Emine Sabanci Kamışlı left Sabanci Holding in 2000 with the support of her father Sevket Sabanci and set up Esas Holding. Later her brother Ali Sabanci quit his position as business development director and joined Esas Holding. These departures triggered many discussions. Emine Kamışlı says that she felt that she needed a career change and that this is why she left. Emine Kamışlı explains that her 15 years of experience in the insurance sector gave her the opportunity to see the problems of different sectors and that this is what laid the foundations for Esas Holding.
Esas Holding made its first investment in 2001. Today it comprises seven companies, has a turnover of $300 million and employs 1,100 personnel. Emine Kamışlı says that the company receives a lot of demands, that to date they have studied 300 companies and that “Five are also customers of our company. But now is not the right time. They need to grow more.”
Emine Kamışlı wants to find and invest in companies which have a future and have the potential to establish a brand. She gives importance to local producers in particular. She works to develop a platform on which they can work with these producers.
Esas Holding Deputy Board Chairwoman Emine Kamışlı answered our questions as follows:
How did your first investment come about? What were the reasons you chose to make the investment?
We made our first investment in 2001 in a company called Medline. Regardless of how much money you have, the most important problem in the health sector in Turkey is accessibility. You may not be able to be where you are needed at the time when you are needed.
When we looked at Medline, we saw that they had really studied this problem. They were able to provide 85 percent of a 365 day 24 hour service in under 15 minutes. There was the potential for establishing a brand. The company’s product was very flexible and it had the potential to go on growing. We were also influenced by the company’s dynamic management style.
What is Esas doing in the foodstuffs sector?
Pan Tarım exports fresh organic vegetables and fruits. It sells natural fresh vegetables and fruits to some supermarkets.
City Farm is engaged in organic retailing. As the sector has not yet developed, it may late enter production. I mean, there are places where it does contract agriculture. When we bought City Farm in 2001 it had three shops selling products. Now it has 82.
There is also Çoban Yoğurt in this field. Çoban joined Esas in March 2004. There were many features which attracted our attention here, particularly the fact that it still used natural yeast in the production of yoghurt, which meant that it was well placed in terms of offering to market the traditional flavours that we remember from the past. The fact that it was producing in the market was very important in terms of logistics,. On top of these advantages, we are expanding the company by increasing product variety and making investments.
How many companies have you studied to date?
There are companies with which we have held discussions in order to obtain information and there are also those which have come to us to give us information. There are also studies we have conducted to deepen our knowledge, and there are those which we have bought or have not bought. When we take all of these together, then we have studied 250-300 companies.