Yıldız Holding to focus on exports, sell $2 billion worth of real estate property

Yıldız Holding to focus on exports, sell $2 billion worth of real estate property

As I was on my way to attend a publicity meeting for Altınbaş Holding chairman Vakkas Altınbaş’s book “Altın Yıllarım” (“My Golden Years” in English), I received a message from Yıldız Holding Chair Murat Ülker that read, “I am now on the Turkish Airlines Shanghai-Istanbul flight. I am reading daily Hürriyet on the plane.”

Ülker said he was traveling more nowadays and there is currently an opportunity for Turkey to export anywhere. During his meetings in Shanghai, he said he had seen a high demand for Turkish products, which are currently being produced at a lower cost following the recent fall of the Turkish Lira against foreign currency. “We will probably have a difficult time meeting this demand,” Ülker said.

In his messages, which he wrote from onboard the plane, Ülker touched upon Finance Minister Berat Albayrak’s meeting with businesspeople. Ülker said he had told Albayrak at the meeting, “We will complete our investments, which will create employment for 5,000 people in 2018. We will create new products with reasonable prices. Utilizing the exchange difference, we will increase exports.”

I asked Ülker if they were exporting to China from Turkey, to which he replied, “Until now, we were sending products from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Kazakhstan. But as of now, products will go [to China] from Turkey and Kazakhstan.”

I also asked him about the company’s revenues per kilogram, to which he said, “We are currently exporting more valuable product types. We are exporting Jaffa Cakes to Australia, Godiva Masterpieces to the U.S., McVities Nibbles to the U.K. The retail price for 100-150 grams of these products stands at a level of 1-2 British pounds ($1.27-$2.54). The innovation of these brands happens in Turkey.”

“Of our 80 factories spread around the world, 55 of them are in Turkey. We employ 45,000 people in Turkey and 15,000 people abroad. Last year, we had a sales revenue of $42.3 billion. This year, we forecast a growth of 19 percent,” Ülker also noted.

Indicating that the company was planning an export level of $500 million this year, Ülker said, “I have just now asked Ali Ülker [Yıldız Holding Vice Chairman]. He said we could also reach a level of $600 million [for exports].”

Ülker has also touched upon the $6.5 billion debt restructuring of the company. “It has been very good that we have restructured our separate loans in one piece for longer repayment due. When someone’s house is compact, it is easier to deal with crises and to head towards foreign markets,” he said.

The chair emphasized that the debt restructuring happened under the leadership of Yapı Kredi Bank. “We are grateful to banks, which have opened their doors for debt restructuring,” he said.

Ülker said selling some of their assets in the upcoming period was also on their agenda. “We had said before, ‘As Yıldız Holding, we will focus on our main categories, which are biscuits, chocolate bars, cake, chocolate, candy, and gummy products.’ For our other businesses, we will either go public, establish strategical partnerships, or sell some of the businesses partially or completely.”

According to the chairman, the company is working on different strategies to accomplish this plan. “Additionally, we will sell out real estate stock that is unrelated to business. Of this relevant real estate, the value of the ones inside Turkey reaches $2 billion.”

Is it healthy for Yıldız Holding, which is based on production, to have $2 billion worth of outside-business real estate stock?

While discussing the sale of assets, Ülker also touched upon the two private planes belonging to Yıldız Holding. “We have sold both of the planes. They were planes for long-haul flights but they had become old. Now, 99 percent of the time I fly with Turkish Airlines,” he said.

Two years ago, when Ülker had flown with one of these private planes for the Istanbul-Konya trip, he had said, “Private planes save us a lot of time. During long-haul journeys, we usually fly at night. And so, we do not wait at the airport. Therefore, we save two months in business days per year.”