Capital: You are growing through mergers and acquisitions. Will this continue? Do you receive a lot of offers with people saying “Come and buy us”?
- Of course, we shall grow through acquisitions. We shall add new purchases. Yes, we receive a lot of offers like this. In fact, you need to divide private hospitals in Turkey into two categories. There are those which are really private hospitals. And then there are private state hospitals. These all work with the Social Security Institution (SGK). Our colleagues in this sector are having difficulty surviving. Indeed, I can say that they are breaking the rules. Because they need to survive and in order to survive they may be doing a number of things. As a result, there are a lot of hospitals for sale in this segment in particular. When we want to set up a new hospital, we either buy a hospital or we buy a medical center and we merge them and turn them into a hospital.
Capital: You have gone from being a neighborhood hospital to a national chain. What were the turning points for you?
- On 19 April 1993, I took over the management with a majority share. At the end of 1993, I decided to stay for the long-term. The most important thing I did was to invest all of the money I earned from the system back into the system. The first critical stage was the public offering in 2000. It gave us some significant advantages. When we saw that there was demand, we increased the proportion that was open to the public from 15 per cent to 36 per cent. We were always one of the top three companies in terms of earning the most for investors. In 2008, we formed a partnership with Abraaj Capital. They made a profit and left in January 2012. This time the cooperation was with a strategic partner. Consequently, we can talk of three critical stages: the 2000 public offering, the 2008 partnership with private venture capital and the 2012 strategic partnership.
Capital: Is the fourth stage growing in the region?
- Of course, this excites us. I am always travelling abroad. And I see this: in health, Turkey is far ahead of the other countries in its neighborhood. There has been a significant improvement in the health sector in Turkey since 2002. In the past, a person would only go to a doctor twice a year, but now we have reached the level of developed countries. In developed countries people go to see a doctor eight times a year, while in Turkey the rate is around 6-7 times. This is also because of the improvement in the sector.
Capital: Right from the beginning you have focused on just one area, on health. Will this continue?
- In fact, health is my main business and shall remain so. Apart from this, I have some personal investments. For example, Erman Erman Ilıcak, the head of Rönesans, and I have bought some land together and we shall construct an office block there. But this is something for which I have provided financing. My business is health.