Mustafa Koç’s last meeting with President Erdoğan on defense bids

Mustafa Koç’s last meeting with President Erdoğan on defense bids

Mustafa Koç’s last meeting with President Erdoğan on defense bids

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he talked about defense projects with Koç Holding Chairman Mustafa Koç a day before the businessman’s death from a heart attack on Jan. 21. Erdoğan also said he’ll attend the funeral ceremony of Koç on Jan. 24. 

“Mustafa Koç and his brother, Ali Koç, visited me a day earlier before this tragic incident. We talked together until the late hours, even made jokes about losing weight and cutting down on his drinking... We mainly discussed what steps Koç Holding took in the defense industry as well as in other sectors. We also mentioned the group’s future trade relations with several neighboring countries to Turkey. As you all know, we offered the national tank, Altay, project to one of their companies during my prime ministry and they developed the project. We talked about such things in detail,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 22. 

He said he was shocked when he first heard of Mustafa Koç’s death just one day later. 

“I immediately called Ali Koç and offered my condolences,” he said, adding that he will attend the funeral ceremony of Koç at the Asian side of Istanbul on Jan. 24. 

Erdoğan noted that Koç Holding had showed an incredible performance for the last 12-13 years. 

Koç, the chairman of Turkey’s largest conglomerate, died of a heart attack on Jan. 21, a shock across the country and among global investors. 

Up and down tension

Koç has had, at times, an uneasy relationship with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by President Erdoğan, although there have been signs of reconciliation. 

A major public tension between Koç and the AKP government emerged in 2013 during the Gezi Park protests. An Istanbul hotel owned by Koç, the Divan hotel, admitted Gezi protesters into its lobby, which quickly turned into a makeshift first aid room. A few days later, an angry Erdoğan said in a public rally, “We know which hotel owners helped the terrorists [protesters]. It is a crime to abet terrorists. And those crimes will not remain unpunished.” 

In September 2013, the government’s executive committee that oversees defense procurement scrapped a $2 billion deal with Koç’s shipyards, RMK Marine, and started a new competition.

Back in January 2013, RMK had signed the contract to build six vessels under the program dubbed MİLGEM. 

Another Koç company, Otokar, designed, developed and produced the prototypes of Altay, a new-generation Turkish tank, under a $500 million contract. However, a much bigger contract for its serial production is in the offing. 

The defense authorities are expected to announce a bid this year for the Altay’s serial production.

Potential bidders are expected to be Otokar and other local armored vehicle makers.