Phil Bennett, EBRD’s First Vice President
Opening of the third Turkish EBRD office in Gaziantep
We wish to see Gaziantep flourish, says EBRD’s First Vice President
The EBRD’s First Vice President, Phil Bennett, delivered this speech as he opened our office in Gaziantep today.
Welcome to the opening of the EBRD’s third office in Turkey, here in Gaziantep. The opening of this office is an important step for the Bank as it marks our expansion into the Eastern Anatolian region. We are looking forward to accelerating our operations here by drawing on the experience we have gained over five years of EBRD activities in the country.
The EBRD has grown rapidly since it first began investing in Turkey in 2009. Starting from just 150 million euros in the first year of our operations, we now expect to invest some 1.5 billion euros in 2014 and are aiming for between 1.8 and 2.0 billion euros in 2015.
Turkey is already our second most important recipient country and so far we have delivered total financing of over 3.8 billion euros across the country.
We focus on the sectors that remain key to the Turkish economy:
- the financial sector, and
- small and medium-sized enterprises.
The EBRD has engaged extensively with the agricultural sector in Turkey, recognising its importance as the source of employment for a quarter of Turkey’s workforce. We are an active direct equity investor in agribusiness and the majority of our investment is outside Istanbul. Our first corporate equity investment in the country’s agribusiness sector was in Tiryaki, here in Gaziantep.
We have also focused on investments in the energy sector, where our aim has always been to help Turkey achieve energy independence.
To date, the Bank has financed the two biggest wind farms in the country, Rotor and Bares, along with several other wind farms, geothermal power plants and hydroelectric stations. We will continue to look for similar investment opportunities in this sector in the future.
In the infrastructure sector, we have played a key role in the financing of the Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul. This is the first public-private partnership (PPP) in the road sector which will serve as a blueprint for other crucial PPP investments in the future. We hope these will include opportunities in the municipal infrastructure sector. At the EBRD we believe that the way forward for municipalities is to adopt a commercial approach and to create financially independent utility companies to run water, transport and other services. This approach provides the opportunity to involve private sector investors through PPP schemes.
So far in the municipal sector, we have financed projects such as the extension of a light rail network in Bursa, a wastewater treatment plant in Mersin, and here in Gaziantep, we have financed environmentally friendly buses fuelled by compressed natural gas. In addition, we hope to invest over half a billion euros in opportunities created by the Turkish government’s ambitious programme of PPP hospital projects, including those in Adana and Isparta as well as here in Gaziantep.
In the financial sector, the Bank has focused on offering targeted credit lines and direct financing to a full spectrum of clients ranging from SMEs to large commercial banks.
We continue to support SMEs with credit lines via local banks and directly through loan and equity finance. Sustainable energy credit lines for over 1 billion euros are available through local banks for SME investments in energy and resource efficiency.
All of this has allowed the EBRD to accumulate extensive local knowledge which we very much hope to put to good use in expanding our operations here in Eastern Anatolia. Our Gaziantep office will allow the Bank to reach out to businesses in the area and to build a strong pipeline of projects, especially with mid-sized corporates. These, we think, would benefit particularly from our expertise. Outside the larger commercial centres, these mid-sized firms still suffer from limited access to longer-term finance and from weaker business and corporate standards. The Bank will combine financing with advice and monitoring at the firm level. We will also support the further development of a sustainable infrastructure of business advisory services at the market level.
The EBRD’s know-how programme connects businesses with local consultants whose expertise helps companies grow and stay competitive. The programme will strengthen the performance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Gaziantep and will increase skills in areas such as management, branding and marketing, as well as human resources and environmental management.
All of these efforts will be led locally by Gokhan Karacetin as Head of the EBRD Gaziantep office. Gokhan will be responsible for building our team here, reaching out to local businesses and investors and establishing constructive relationships with the local authorities. Gokhan has worked for the EBRD for four years in our Istanbul office and he has a broad range of transactional experience both in Turkey and Central Asia. I am sure he is looking forward to putting his skills to good use here.
As you may or may not know, we have another link to Gaziantep at the EBRD; our Deputy Director for Turkey, Sule Kilic, is from Gaziantep and as such has a personal interest in the area. She will be working closely with Gokhan.
Let me conclude by saying that we at the EBRD have high hopes for this office and for this region. We wish to see Gaziantep flourish as one of the regional development hubs in Turkey, realising in full its significant potential for new investment in agribusiness, infrastructure, transport and energy as well as in financial services. We are convinced that this region can become a centre of economic growth at the heart of Turkey, and we aim to be a supportive partner for the region and for Gaziantep on their road to success.