Turkish firms and their Chinese vision

Turkish firms and their Chinese vision

In the past week, I had talks with two top-level businesspeople in different sectors and their common aspect was the “China vision.” As the world’s second largest economy, China inevitably finds its place in Turkish companies’ long-term strategies. 

The two sectors in question are quite different from each other; one is food and the other is technology. 
I was able to visit Fora Zeytin’s Balıkesir Havran factory, a large olive processing facility covering an area of 120,000 square meters. Its olive processing capacity is 40,000 tons.  

Fora Zeytin, which was a subsidiary of İş Bankası for many years, was bought in 2014 by industrialist Mehmet Mermer, owner of Billur Tuz, the most important salt brand in Turkey. 

In 2016, Fora Zeytin grew by 30 percent. Its turnover that year was 70 million Turkish Liras. The general manager of Fora Zeytin, Efe Yazıcı, said they exported to 50 countries. 

Yazıcı said they participated in Asia’s biggest food fair, Sial, in the middle of May in Shanghai: “Chinese people were interested in our stand where they met the olive which is foreign to their culture. The samples were consumed so fast, we barely made it to the final day of the fair. We will make the Chinese love olives.” 

I would advise Fora Zeytin to hurry up because it is highly likely that olive growing may start any time in China, the country which launched viticulture and winemaking years ago and even duplicated the chateaus of France to produce “chateau-style” wines. 

The second company that has a Chinese vision is Netaş, one of the milestones in telecommunications in Turkey. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 

Netaş is Turkey’s biggest system integrator and at the same time, has played an important role in the modernization of the defense communication network of the Turkish Armed Forces. Netaş is on its way to partnering with Chinese technology giant ZTE. 

Netaş Chief Executive Officer Müjdat Altay told us that when JP Morgan decided to sell its shares, the best offer came from ZTE. JP Morgan controls 48 percent of the shares of Netaş, Altay said. 

“At the beginning of May, we received a deposit of $10 million from ZTE, a company that has a turnover of $17 billion. The partnership process is moving smoothly,” he said.

Well, why is this Chinese giant interested in Netaş, the estimated value of is $101 million? 

When this question came up during our talk, Müjdat Altay replied, “Netaş is the best address for ZTE, which wants to open up to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.” 

Netaş has more than 700 engineers working at its R&D center. In the past three years, Netaş has applied for 220 patents. In multimedia technologies, it has one of the top 19 laboratories in the world. It is a very pleasing step in terms of innovation that Netaş is uniting its power with China’s ZTE.