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Global investors see potential in Turkey 15 mars 2012

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, Istanbul, Turkey / Turquie.
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International Herald Tribune (USA) 15 March 2012, p. 18

By Sara Hamdan

Private equity firms busy seeking opportunities for buyouts and large stakes.

For private equity players hungry for deals, analysts say the Turkish market is piquing interest as political uncertainty in the Middle East and the euro zone’s debt problems encourage investors to explore other markets.

Major deals were completed in Turkey last year, and new funds are emerging on a scale reminiscent of the boom times of 2007.

« The buoyant market in the region now is Turkey, and all the big private equity players — from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to Abraaj Capital — are showing heightened interest, » said Jochen Duelli, head of Bain & Co.’s private equity practice in the Middle East, based in Dubai.

The Turkish economy has expanded rapidly over the past decade and remains strong. It grew 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, the fastest increase among the Group of 20 countries after China, according to data from Thomson Reuters. That performance has proved attractive to investors.

Last January, Abraaj Capital sold the 50 percent stake it bought in 2007 in the Turkish hospital chain Acibadem Saglik Hizmetleri & Ticaret for about $1 billion to Integrated Healthcare, a company linked to the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian government’s sovereign wealth fund. Abraaj did not disclose the original purchase price, but said it made ‘‘an attractive return’’ on its investment.

In February 2011, the buyout group TPG Capital sold Mey Icki Sanayi, a Turkish spirits company, to Diageo, the British spirits group, for $2.1 billion in what has become Turkey’s biggest private equity sale on record. TPG initially bought Mey Icki in 2006 for $810 million.

« With these exits, Turkey has proven itself to be a market where private equity players can complete a full cycle of investing in and exiting a company, which will encourage more investments, » said Selcuk Yorgancioglu, Abraaj’s country manager for Turkey, by telephone from Istanbul. « And the size of exits were large by European scale, not just emerging market scale. »

He added that Abraaj, which opened an office in Turkey in 2008, was in negotiations on another four deals, two small and two large. Alarge deal is around $50 million and small is up to $10 million, he said. Others are also making deals. The Carlyle MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Fund, which closed at $500 million in 2009, bought 48 percent of Bahcesehir Kolejleri, an education group based in Istanbul, in January, and has completed two other investments as well. While deal sizes are not disclosed, Can Deldag, a Carlyle managing director for Mideast operations, said they ranged from $50 million to $100 million.

‘‘There are more than 50 private equity firms trying to make deals in Turkey now and it’s becoming a very competitive market, so most of the firms target midmarket deal sizes’’ because larger transactions are rare, Mr. Deldag said by telephone from Istanbul.

‘‘As for sectors, anything touching consumer goods is attractive, from retail to food, as well as health care and education,’’ he said.

Prima Energy Trading, a unit of Gazprombank, announced plans to buy 26 percent of Avrasya Gaz, a Turkish wholesale gas trader, in January, while Eastgate Capital Group, the private equity arm of the Saudi firm NCB Capital, made its first investment in Turkey in March by acquiring 49.8 percent of Fabeks Dis Ticaret, an apparel company, for an undisclosed amount.

Nasr-eddine Benaissa, a managing partner at Eastgate Capital Group based in Dubai, said that international investors had been interested in Turkey for some time already but that interest had increased lately as a result of the recent activity.

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