Turkven, Tayfun and Turkish Baths…oh my!

A sunny, but chilly Monday morning began with our first corporate visit of the trip to Turkven, Turkey’s largest private equity group with €500 million of AUM. The presenter, Selim Kender, CBS alum and Principle at Turkven (and formerly the Head of Fortis Bank Leveraged Finance in Istanbul) gave an informative presentation about Turkey’s economic growth while we sat in a beautiful conference room overlooking the Bosphorus.

During the Q&A session he highlighted Turkven’s selective due diligence process (only 30 out of 3,000 companies are selected for due diligence), and the common traits of the group’s 15 investments, such as Migros (Turkey’s Walmart) and Domino’s Pizza (e.g. market leading position, strong management, etc.).

Ahead of schedule, we enjoy traditional Turkish coffees and teas at a beautiful waterside cafe called Bebek, surrounded by locals playing rowdy games of backgammon and checkers.

The view from Bebek

Our next stop is back to the hotel to hear from CBS Alum Tayfun Bayazit. Mr. Bayazit is an experienced finance professional and was formerly Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Yapi Ve Kredi Bankasi AS. He spoke to us about the history and current status of the Turkish banking system, including his view that the banking sector (which consists of 3 state-owed banks, around 30 private banks and just a handful of internationally owned banks) is “very much unpenetrated” and that he expects further consolidation in the future.

When asked about SME access to finance, Mr Bayazit noted that “every Turk that is born is born as an entrepreneur” but that in the past SMEs had little access to finance and that only recently have banks begun to rediscover this segment as a profitable investment opportunity.

After a quick nap (I blame you, jet lag!) a group of us departed the hotel for a uniquely turkish adventure…a turkish bath at an original Hamami in downtown Istanbul. Thoroughly scrubbed, foamed and massaged, we then meet up with the rest of the crew for a delicious multi-course dinner at CavitTurkish. The adventures then continue at Taksim (yet again!) as we celebrate Viral’s birthday late into the night…

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