How far the ‘Gezi retaliation’ to the business world?
When I took a vacation about two weeks ago, the business world was going through the shock of early morning raids by financial teams accompanied by police on Tüpraş, the company known as the flagship of the Koç Group, as well as the companies belonging to the same group Opet and Aygaz.
Last weekend, the day I came back from my vacation, another piece of news about Koç Holding was occupying news websites.
The Office of the Prime Minister had cancelled Turkey’s first “national war ship” tender that RMK Marine from the Koç Group had won for 1.1 billion euros.
It is claimed that in the report investigating the ship tender prepared by the Prime Ministry Inspection Board, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature is present.
Two major blows in two weeks to the Koç Group bring the question, for good reason, into people’s minds of “Is this retaliation for Gezi?”
Let’s go back to the days of the Gezi protests, if you wish.
Divan Hotel at Taksim, which belongs to the Koç Group, had opened its doors to those who were exposed to gas bombs in the Gezi protests.
We have all watched on television on a Saturday when the Gezi protestors, kids and all, were preparing to pack their tents and leave but were suddenly raided by police and how they took shelter at the Divan Hotel.
Also, we have witnessed in dismay the police throwing gas bombs even inside the hotel.
The fact that Prime Minister Erdoğan, a short while before the Tüpraş raid, accused the owners of Divan Hotel of “abetting,” while he spoke at a Parliamentary group meeting, does strengthen the “retaliation” claim.
The raid on Tüpraş, as one of my colleagues put it, is indeed not a raid on the “neighborhood market.”
Tüpraş is known to be Turkey’s most precious company. It is the biggest player of the private sector in oil and LPG.
It imports oil from peripheral countries such as Russia, Iraq and LPG from Gulf countries and Algeria. It has partnerships in Arbil.
It has high international credibility as a supplier.
After all, as a result of the raid of the financial teams on Tüpraş, Aygaz and Opet, the value of the market shares of the Koç Group companies went down 4.5 billion Turkish Liras in two days.
The first person from the Koç Family to speak after the Tüpraş raid was member of Koç Holding Executive Committee, Ali Koç.
“The Koç Group has no other target than developing Turkey’s economy, Ali Koç said, citing figures that clearly demonstrated the weight of the group in the economy.
The Koç Group constitutes 9 percent of Turkey’s economy; makes 10 percent of exports and pays 9.4 percent of total taxes of the state.
The group’s share in the private sector’s Research and Development spending is 10 percent.
As a matter of fact, the venue at which Ali Koç delivered his statement was Ford Otosan’s facilities, which is the place that makes the most significant spending in R&D in Turkey.
Koç Holding, which is the top Turkish firm in the list of the biggest publicly traded companies of Forbes Magazine, employs 83,000 people.
If all that is happening points to “Gezi retaliation,” then that, really, is a huge pity.