10/26/2009

Turkey to play a crucial role in energy politics

Today’s Zaman - Merger and acquisition experts from both sides of the equation gathered in Istanbul last Friday for the IMAP Global Mergers and Acquisitions Symposium, where advisors and corporation managers, sellers and buyers all agreed that the global financial crisis has introduced a new world of corporate deal making. Husnu Ozyegin, Chairman of Fiba Holding, spoke about the recent improvements in relations between Turkey and the neighboring countries, underlying the importance of Turkey’s growing energy market. Ozyegin emphasized the shift in investment flow and said that developing economies with high growth rates will have the upper hand in the post-crisis period. “The dynamics of investing have changed, for it's no longer straight from developed markets to developing economies but so-called sideways deals, with China investing and India investing”, said Ozyegin. He cited an example of a Russian company investing in Turkey, when last year Lukoil paid USD 500 million for Turkish fuel retailer Akpet. Ozyegin noted the strides Turkey has made in improving relations with its neighboring countries, a program that Ankara has been following for years now but one that has shown big developments in recent weeks. The businessman pointed out that Turkey recently signed an agreement whereby Syrians will no longer need visas to enter Turkey, that the government also signed 40 separate trade agreements with Iraq and that Turkey also signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. The upshot of all this active foreign diplomacy is that European investors have to look at Turkey in a larger context than that of a country with a population of 73 million, said Ozyegin. The energy sector is particularly ripe for deal making, he stressed. “Turkey is one of the few countries where energy consumption has been rising eight percent per year for nearly 30 years”, said Ozyegin. “In Europe, Turkey ranks second in wind energy potential, behind only Scotland, and ranks second in solar energy potential, behind Spain.” Delivering the keynote speech at the symposium earlier on Friday morning, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar also highlighted energy as an area where Turkey enjoyed special opportunities. “Turkey's geography makes it an important player in supplying Europe's energy needs”, said Aznar, “but this opportunity also involves great responsibility. That's because Turkey, in catching this flood of globalization, employs the principles of a free society, the principles of free trade, and their success on this subject is an important demonstration for the region, for Europe and Asia.”