Turkish businessman Murat Ülker denies rumors he is leaving Turkey

Turkish businessman Murat Ülker denies rumors he is leaving Turkey

Vahap Munyar - ISTANBUL
Turkish businessman Murat Ülker denies rumors he is leaving Turkey

Murat Ülker, chairman of Yıldız Holding and one of the richest businessmen in Turkey, has said that his assets outweighed his debts, ruling out rumors that he was planning to leave Turkey.

“A quarter of my assets, 25 percent of them, are abroad. I own 80 factories, of which 55 are in Turkey. Some 40,000 of our 60,000 employees work at our companies and facilities based in Turkey. I create jobs for almost 5,000 people in my country every year,” he told daily Hürriyet on April 25.

“I am in Turkey. I’m not going anywhere,” he added, referring to a recent reply to Rahmi Koç, a prominent Turkish businessman and philanthropist, who asked if he had moved to London or not.

“I would not go even if they shooed me away,” Ülker said.

Ülker, owner of international brands such as Godiva Chocolates and United Biscuits, also elaborated on his recent deal with Turkish banks to restructure as much as $6.5 billion of debt.

“I spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek [on the restructuring operation]. I told him that the terms of our 400 credit debts were between six months and a year. ‘I wanted to get an umbrella when the weather is sunny. As you know, nobody gives one when it is rainy,’ I said,” he added.

“My assets could pay off my total debts of $6.5, and I would still have 15 billion liras remaining. The important point is to operate the system healthily. The priority of the banks should be keeping the businesses alive,” he said, explaining how he convinced the bank managers.

After the debt restructuring deal between Yildiz Holding and some Turkish banks, there were rumors that Ülker would move his assets to the parent company Pladis Global, which is based in the U.K.

Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sent a strong warning to the business world about those rumors without naming anyone.

“There have been some recent reports claiming that some Turkish companies and businesspeople are seeking to send their assets abroad ... If anyone is in an effort to stash their money abroad rather than boosting their investments, business or trade, then we cannot forgive them,” he had said in Istanbul on April 21.

Murat Ülker was declared the richest man in Turkey with a net worth of $4.8 billion that has increased by $1.1 billion over a year, according to the Forbes Türkiye magazine’s report released on March 1.

Ülker Bisküvi,