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  • Writer's pictureÖztürk Holding

We will build an airport in Maldives

Öztürk Holding, headquartered in Dubai, is mostly known for the works it has done in Africa. Yusuf Öztürk, the chairman of the board of directors of the company, which now extends to the Indian Ocean, says that they have won important tenders in Sri Lanka and Maldives. Öztürk states that they have started a project of 5 thousand residences and Ibrahim Nasr Airport, which will be rebuilt in Maldives for 800 million dollars.


Öztürk Holding was ranked 18th last year in the list of 'The World's 250 Largest Contractors' with the infrastructure and superstructure projects it undertook in Africa. However, it was not on the list this year. Yusuf Öztürk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Öztürk Holding, explained to the Economist why the group was not included in the list and its new investments.

Stating that they have undertaken a series of projects in Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia and Sudan in Africa and that their investments continue, Yusuf Öztürk says that they are extending to the Indian Ocean after Africa.

Stating that they have won important tenders in Sri Lanka and Maldives in the Indian Ocean and that they have started to work, Yusuf Öztürk answered our questions as follows:

Last year, you attracted attention with your entry into the list of the world's largest contractors. Firstly, could you tell us about the point Öztürk Holding has reached? I am the son of an officer father. We are four siblings and we were established as a family company in 1989. After graduating from ITU Electrical and Electronics Department in 1995, I became the head of the company. In 2004, I became the president of the London-based World and Turkish Businessmen's Association.

I have travelled to 33 countries in Africa and we have very good communication with the heads of state and bureaucrats of each of them. The story of our involvement there started with a French company. The French had produced a project to use their surplus tax money at the end of the year for the construction of hospitals in such countries. The first leg of this project covered Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Madagascar. We have started to build 50-bed hospitals.

What is the prerequisite for being in Africa? As a group, we are always in the western and southern corridor. We do business in countries such as Guinea, Gambia, Cameroon, Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and Sudan. Africa is a geography where the conditions and processes of doing business are constantly changing.

So how do you do business in Africa? Can you tell us about your working strategy? When we go to a country, we first identify its needs. The unchanging ranking for 57 countries across Africa is as follows: Energy is number one. Roads, education, health and housing follow. If you act accordingly, when you sit at the same table with state representatives, you will also determine your path. For example, we recently took 560 kilometres of road work in Cameroon. We go to funding institutions and we take the financing ourselves in the projects we carry out. In the agreements we make, there is generally no payment for five years. Afterwards, we take maturities up to 20 years.

Which funds do you work with? We are taking Far East funds to Africa. Because they do not know this market but they want to enter it. Therefore, they enter under our guidance. We are working with six fund companies in the region.

What kind of a path do you follow? What would be your advice to new entrepreneurs? The issue we pay the most attention to is guarantees. We add another page to the existing guarantee and say that if they do not pay, we will assume the rights to use certain mines in the country for 100 years. As a result, we provide personal guarantees, and the funds make the financing available on condition that they are paid. Therefore, there should be solid guarantees. There is a great investment opportunity in Africa, especially in the energy sector.

There is no textile at all. It is possible to send all surplus products in Turkey to these countries. For example, mixed fruit juices are consumed a lot. Anything you can think of such as shoes and nappies can be sold. Those who go there should definitely keep an office, even if it is small. If you go from Turkey with money in your pocket, you can return without money, and if you go without money, you can come back with millions of dollars. If you find the right names in the region and go, you will be successful.

What is the size of the holding? We have a business volume of 2.7 billion dollars. The amount of the projects we receive annually varies. This year, we will reach a business volume of 3.1 billion dollars. We expect a growth of more than 10 per cent compared to the previous year.

How much business do you run now? While our initiatives in Africa continue, we also took our place in the Indian Ocean this year. We undertook important projects in Sri Lanka and Maldives. We won the tender for a project of 5 thousand houses in Maldives. This is a 327 million dollar project. We have started the works for this housing project we have undertaken on the island of Hulhumale in the Maldives. We have also signed a contract for an airport, which is a very important project for us.

What kind of project will it be? The current Ibrahim Nasr Airport will serve domestic flights. The international airport to be rebuilt next to it is a work worth 800 million dollars. We aim to complete these projects within two years. In Sri Lanka, 65 thousand houses will be built in the region cleared of Tamil guerrillas. These houses will be single-storey, prefabricated houses. We have established our office there and we will take part in the first phase.

What is the shareholder structure of Öztürk Holding? Could you tell us about your business in Turkey as well as abroad? All of our companies are established abroad. There are 42 companies affiliated to Öztürk Holding and our holding centre is located in Dubai. Our companies in Africa and other countries are affiliated to our holding, in which 80 per cent of the shares are held by me and 20 per cent by Al Maktoum's brother. Öztürk Holding, which we established in Turkey in 2015, will move forward with urban transformation and education investments.

Your business has always gone well. You are not a member of the Contractors' Association or other organisations and your growth raises questions. To what do you attribute this rapid growth? First of all, what you tell people is important. We are transparent in everything. For example, we have a very good communication with the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Family in Saudi Arabia. We are partners with the brother of Dubai Emir Al Maktoum. Since 1997, we have been conducting partnerships. The momentum has been going upwards since 2007. After all, we have been working in difficult markets for many years. Our relations are also very good. Therefore, we are getting the reward for our labour.

The total amount of our signed projects is 57 billion dollars. These are the works we will fulfil in eight years. There is a fund of 32 billion dollars in the name of Öztürkler. We do not report this to Turkey, because we are based in Dubai and these figures are the amounts arising from our business abroad. We do not want to anger anyone. We have no expectations. We only ask state administrators for their moral patronage.

These magnitudes may justifiably raise suspicions as to who is behind it? Everyone knows who we have. I received the Socrates award in London, and this year, as Öztürk Holding, we are receiving the award for the best debut company in Africa. They know who we do business with in the UK and Europe.

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