Mega construction, energy projects leave mark in 2013
Underwater rail tunnel linking two continents, Marmaray, has been inaugurated.
Turkey opened the world’s first underwater rail link between two continents, Marmaray, on Oct. 29, connecting Asia and Europe with the $2.8 billion tunnel that was inaugurated with a fanfare ceremony.
- A Turkish consortium on May 3 won a $29 billion tender—the largest in Turkey’s history— to build and operate a third airport in Istanbul, which is slated to be one of the world’s largest, marking a milestone in the country’s ambition to become a global transit hub.
- A $5.7 billion highway and bridge privatization tender was cancelled on Feb. 22, following Prime Minister Erdoğan saying he was dissatisfied with the amount, hinting the deal could be revisited. Currently, the government is working on plans to privatize toll roads and bridges through public offerings, which are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014 if all the bureaucratic processes are passed as planned.
- Turkey and Japan signed an official agreement on Oct. 29 to build Turkey’s second nuclear plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop, during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit. Turkey also announced plans to operate its third nuclear plant, most of the parts of which are planned to be built by national sources.
- Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package in late November that will help transform the semi-autonomous region into an oil and gas powerhouse, but infuriated the central government in Baghdad. Crude flow in the KRG’s new pipeline is to start soon as part of the deals, and will link with the 40-inch-wide existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to be exported to world markets. Meanwhile, the central Iraqi government has reportedly given consent to the deal, which it has been objecting for years, claiming rights on the sources at the northern part of the country.
- Turkey and the Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), the state-owned oil explorer and power supplier, agreed in January on a project worth up to $12 billion to build several power plants using the lignite coal reserves of Turkey’s Afşin-Elbistan region. However, in August, TAQA said it delayed plans to start the construction of 8,000 MW of coal-fired power plants to 2014, citing other spending priorities. Turkey said it kicked-off talks with other countries.
- Turkish state-owned energy company TPAO and Royal Dutch Shell signed an agreement on Feb. 14 on oil exploration in the western Black Sea region, envisaging drilling at least one well within two years.
- Food company Torunlar Gıda’s subsidiary, Torunlar Energy, won the tender for Turkey’s second largest natural gas grid, Başkent Doğalgaz, with a $1.16 million offer on Jan. 26.
- The privatization of Turkey’s power distribution market has been completed after the final four tenders held for Ayedaş, Toroslor, Dicle and Vangölü power grids on March 15.
- Turkish Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) has confiscated the media assets of Çukurova group, a local conglomerate active in various businesses including telecommunications and energy, in return for the company’s mounted debts.
- Media acquisitions:
1. Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR has agreed to acquire Turkey’s Star Media Group, which comprises of daily Star and broadcaster Kanal 24, in May.
- Ciner Group, a local holding active in a broad range of businesses from energy to mining, has agreed to buy Show TV, one of the Çukurova group media assets put on sale by Turkey’s Savings and Deposit Insurance Funds (TMSF), for 402 million Turkish Liras on June 1.
- Former Çukurova assets, Akşam daily, SKY 360 TV channel and Alem Radio, also seized by the TMSF, has been sold to Turkish businessman and entrepreneur Ethem Sancak. The media assets were first sold to the third Istanbul airport’s winning consortium, but then the group announced they had backtracked.
- Çalık group sold its Turkish media group Sabah-ATV to Zirve Holding in December, which is owned by the Kalyon Group, which is also active in the construction, energy and infrastructure sectors.
- Turkey earned three investment-grade credit ratings in May, consecutively from Moody’s, Canada’s international credit ratings agency Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) and Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR). Meanwhile, another rating agency, Standard & Poor’s raised Turkey to within a whisker of investment grade on March 27, citing a rebalancing economy and progress in the Kurdish peace process.
- The Turkish government introduced a private pension scheme, in which the government will pay 25 percent of the pension to participants every month as a state contribution. The new system remarkably boosted the inclusion of new pensioners into the system, expanding the insurance sector.
- Turkey’s Competition Board fined 12 Turkish banks on March 8 after finding evidence of collusion in determining loan rates. Garanti Bank will pay the highest fine at 213.4 million liras, followed by Akbank with 172.2 million liras and Yapı Kredi with 149.9 million liras.
- Turkey paid its last loan installment of $412 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on May 14 after a 52-year relationship.
- Turkish dairy and milk producer Sütaş’s Chairman Muharrem Yılmaz took the helm at the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) on Jan. 17, the leading business organization in the country, replacing Ümit Boyner.
- The sole exchange entity of Turkey, Borsa Istanbul, which has combined the Istanbul Stock Exchange and the Istanbul Gold Exchange under one umbrella, began to operate on April 5.
NATO, US voice concern over Turkey-China missile deal
Turkey’s NATO allies voiced concern when it said in September it had chosen China’s FD-2000 missile defense system over rival offers from Franco/Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co.NATO and the U.S. clearly conveyed to Ankara that a Chinese missile defense system will not be interoperable with NATO systems, with Turkey claiming that the proposed system will be compatible with existing systems.
Turkey mulls taking part in EU-US free trade alliance
Washington and Brussels have completed three round of talks on the proposed trade pact in since kicking negotiations off in July and hope to finish in one to two years.Turkey has been pushing for involvement in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between parties which it fears could leave it sidelined and hamper its trade much-anticipated export rise due to Customs Union deal with the EU.
Turkey, KRG inks deals for oil flow at pipeline
Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package in late November that will help transform the semi-autonomous region into an oil and gas powerhouse. Crude flow new pipeline is to start soon as part of the deals, and will link with the 40-inch-wide existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to be exported to world markets. Central Iraqi government have also begun to look warmer to alliance.
Turkey one of world’s worst performer markets of past year
The Turkish stock market was one of the world’s worst performers in 2013, while the Turkish Lira dropped to unprecedented lows in the past 12 months due to growing tension on the markets prompted by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement to scale back its asset-purchasing program and political developments that have shaken the ruling party.
Despite climbing up to an all-time high-level of 93,000 in May, the Borsa Istanbul (BIST) main index, have gone through a bumpy second half, mainly continuing downwards.
With the Fed possibly set to cut the pace of bond purchases in the next few meetings if policy-makers see indications of sustained economic growth, Turkey has become one of the worst-hit.
Already under pressure from Fed, the lira and stock markets have been beaten down further by political tensions in the country.
The first major political blow to markets was the anti-government Gezi Park protests that started at the end of May, continuing until the end of summer.
The lira weakened to 1.9 against the dollar on June 3, following investor concerns over the impact of demonstrations held in major cities across the country. Turkey’s main share index closed the same day 10.47 percent down.
Throughout the period, losses at BIST have surpassed 33 percent, but only a part of those were successfully earned back.
Since the beginning of a corruption and bribery investigation on Dec. 17 leading to three ministers’ resignations, the BIST 100 index has lost 21 percent of its value, extending the whole year’s loss to around 32 percent.
Between Dec. 17 and 27, the value of companies traded on the stock exchange retreated to $221.5 billion from $270.9 billion, according to figures provided by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.