An unusual Japanese investment in Turkey

An unusual Japanese investment in Turkey

İnci GS Yuasa, a firm partnering with the Japanese, laid the foundation last week for a power supply factory in Manisa on Turkey’s Aegean coast. With this ceremony, we can say it is an “out of the common Japanese investment at these times.”

There are several reasons that make this investment unusual. Perhaps the most significant one is that the investment came at a time when Turkey is having a hard time receiving foreign direct investments. It is not a regular encounter that the Japanese, known to be tough on making an investment decision, went ahead with an investment in Turkey, which is having troubles with its international image. “We used to do opening ceremonies but not sod-cutting ceremonies. We wanted to do a sod-cutting ceremony to cheer up the business world and let the media know about the developments happening at such a time,” Neşe Gök, İnci Holding board chair, said.

We should note that Turkey still has an important place in the global production and trade markets despite the tough times we are facing. “We see Turkey as a rising star in the region. The new factory actually seconds our trust for this growth. We aim to make Turkey the center of our map to reach all countries we can expand to,” GS Yuasa Deputy Director Yuji Hashimoto said.

Turkey’s location is important, but we see that the trust factor also plays a big role in terms of business partnership by looking at this odd example. It looks like the harmony between the partners with only two years of history together has played a huge role in the Japanese decision to make 250 million Turkish Liras worth of investment here. Besides, it is also crucial that Japan is planning to reach out to Europe through this partnership instead of linking with the main company. Cihan Elbirlik, İnci GS Yuasa CEO, said the factory would begin functioning by the end of next year and that batteries for the main automobile industry as well as Start-Stop batteries - which are on the rise - will be produced here. With the support of their partners, who are the second largest battery producers in the world, they will have no problem adjusting to the advancing technology in this factory when electric vehicles become more common, Elbirlik said. So, this investment stands out as one that aims to export to 80 countries and is one that is ready to adjust to the advancing technology. This is an unusual planning strategy for Turkey, in my opinion.

İzmir’s appeal

One aspect of the investment that makes it unusual is how the family company established trust with foreign investors. In our conversation with İnci Gök, we learned that they have a model strategy for the family company and that there is a very detailed family constitution that adapts to the changing conditions. I believe İnci Holding’s partnerships with foreign investors in every area has helped them become corporate and professional as a family company. This is also unusual, at a time when family companies are falling apart gradually - a situation that leads to companies being sold to funds.

The governance approach in the last years that has somehow changed center of attractions also plays a role though a minor one in this investment. At some point, it was tough attracting qualified workers, especially from Istanbul, to places like the Aegean provinces of İzmir and Manisa, once known as İzmir’s backyard. But for the past three to four years, as Gök said, the white collar workforce in the city has rapidly increased. Gök, who mentioned that they are not having trouble employing workers as before, said, “As a director with a background in human resources, I can say that we are living in the golden era.”

How I wish we could normalize already, and see this investment as ordinary and not unusual...

Erdal Sağlam, hdn,