“Our Target Is Regional Opportunities”

“One must stand firm in a crisis. We should know how to do the best thing with minimum damage and take advantage of any opportunities.” This is how Doğuş Holding boss Ferit Şahenk looks at crises. ...

1.10.2008 03:00:000
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“One must stand firm in a crisis. We should know how to do the best thing with minimum damage and take advantage of any opportunities.” This is how Doğuş Holding boss Ferit Şahenk looks at crises. He believes that when the world economy grows, Turkey will be one of the countries which is a shining star. Ferit Şahenk thinks that there are many regional opportunities and explains how they will make the most of these opportunities.

Doğuş Holding is pursuing a strategy of broadening and deepening its current businesses and is preparing to close this year with a turnover of US$5 billion. The group achieved a 20 percent rate of growth in the first six months of the year. CEO Hüsnü Akhan says that they will close the year successfully in line with their targets. The group’s board chairman Ferit Şahenk is very pleased with these results secured by his team. Şahenk sees the global crisis as an opportunity. “Things are going negatively in the world as a whole. But I see many regional opportunities for Turkey,” he says. We spoke with Doğuş Holding Board Chairman Ferit Şahenk about the crisis, the global markets and, of course, the Turkish economy.

* How have the first eight months of the year been for the Doğuş Group? Has it achieved its targets?
Our forecasts for the world as a whole were just were right. In Turkey, we thought that growth would be a little higher than it has been. This slowdown occurred earlier than we had expected. When I look at the world as a whole, I think that Turkey must get used to these figures. Leman Brothers, one of the largest investment banks in the world, has collapsed. Another has been bought by Bank of America. When things like this are happening in the rest of the world, I think we have done well to record such a performance. In the first six months, the group realized net growth of 20 percent compared with last year. I am honestly very pleased with this.

* What are your expectations for the remainder of the year?
It is difficult to give a definite answer to this question. There may be a chain of events stretching from America to Europe and perhaps from Europe to the Far East. Economies will contract. This contraction will affect Turkey, its exports and consumption. It is difficult to know. I think that Turkey should come out of this stronger. Because Turkey is a country with a potential for growth.

* Things are going badly but you are still optimistic?
Things are going badly in the world as a whole. But I see a lot of regional opportunities in Turkey. A lot of investment may come to Turkey. Don’t look at everything negatively, there are also positive sides. It is not a question of being unable to find money, but the cost has risen. There is still interest in Turkey. When you look at the projections that have been made, you see that there is also the will for growth. The foreign institutions are all funding Turkey.

* You said that you believe that there are regional opportunities. What kind of opportunities are you talking about?
To be honest, I see a lot of opportunities in banking. It is not just Doğuş, there are also several other groups in Turkey who are doing banking very well. We are looking at Ukraine, Romania and several other markets. I think there are such opportunities both in banking and in tourism.

* Coşkun Ulusoy said that if 4-5 banks in Turkey merged they could create a global giant. Do you agree?
What Mr. Ulusoy said is partly true. But I do not agree 100 percent. There is no point in banks just merging without the economy reaching a certain size. Of course, there may be a second period of consolidation in Turkey.

* What will this second consolidation be like?
It can be of any kind. Now banks abroad have begun to buy one another. If two banks which have merged have two separate banks in Turkey, they may merge them or sell them. It could be between Turks or foreigners. Nothing in the world is impossible. What is important here, of course, is the quality and speed of the service provided to the customer, and getting ahead of the other brands and being preferred more. This is the essence of banking. Technology and human resources are very important. Today, it is those who are successful here who will have the edge. Believe me, it is not difficult to find capital. There is money in the world.

* How influential is the management of the economy in ensuring things go in the right direction?
When you look at the government data for the last 6-7 months, then the figures are very good. I hope that the success we have achieved in the economy over the last 5 years, and the progress we have made up until today, continues in the future. While this continues, then the money will come to Turkey and there will always be interest in the country. Mr. Akhan has reached an agreement on our behalf with an American group to establish a chain of marinas along all of our coasts. They are very excited.

* What is the name of this chain?
Island Global Yachting. They are one of the two largest marina companies in the world. The joint venture company we have established will manage the marinas in which we are currently a partner. We have an agreement about joint investments.

* Will the current crisis continue?
The world is waiting. Somewhere there will be supply and demand. Then things will settle down. But my fear for the future is related to inflation. How inflation will be managed is another question.

* In 2003 you said that you would withdraw from areas in which you could not be amongst the first three. What is your strategy today?
It continues the same. If you are working with high quality human resources and technology, productively and profitably, if you are creating brands, if you are able to compete while being perceived correctly in society, if you are able to make money, then this means you are in the top three.

* What target volumes have you set for the future?
Sustainable profitability is more important for us than size. The rates in the sectors may change. But, in general, we want to grow by more than inflation. I mean, in the future we have set a growth target of 15-20 percent.

Hüsnü Akhan/Doğuş Holding Ceo
“We Are Expecting Turnover Of Us$5 Billion In 2008”

How Will The Figures Be Achieved?
 When we look at it on a consolidated basis, the group has total assets of over US$30 billion. We are expecting a turnover of US$5 billion by the end of the year, again on a consolidated basis. We think that we shall achieve over US$1 billion in EBITDA. As a result,  I think that we shall close the year successfully.

The Situation In The Other Sectors
We shall open the Park Hyatt in Maçka after the Bayram. We have built a 95 room hotel there. We have increased the number of stars at Club Alantur to make it five stars. Another 140 rooms will be added next year. In real estate, Doğuş Gayrimenkul has begun the construction of a shopping mall and hotel project in Gebze. We are developing a 540-resident housing project in Kartal.


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