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Face to face: Bulent Batukan, Anel MEP

by Cathal McElroy on Oct 5, 2013

Batukan says the UAE is now a major target for Anel.
Batukan says the UAE is now a major target for Anel.
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As it gets to work on the latest of its GCC airport project awards in Abu Dhabi, Anel MEP’s executive board member Bülent Batukan and three of its GCC team explain why the contractor has been able to hit such heady heights of late

In November last year, Anel MEP celebrated the latest of its GCC airport project awards with a $287m (AED: 1.1bn) contract for the electrical works on the Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal, set for completion in Q3 of 2017.

While the sprawling aviation project is in its early stages, currently undergoing enabling works, Anel is already fully set up on site with an office in which the company’s executive board member Bülent Batukan settles down to narrate the story of the MEP contractor’s GCC ascent.

Flanked by three of the company’s GCC team (Midfield Terminal project manager Zafer Genc, Qatar country manager Tolga Tutum, and MEP project manager Mustafa Özgür Ünal), Batukan says that the company is now an undisputed regional leader in airport MEP projects.

“We are very strong in the airport business; this is our tenth international airport. In the UAE, where we established a company about four years ago, we have focussed mainly on this airport [Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal].

But last year we also participated in the Concourse 4 tender at Dubai International Airport following a request from Dubai Civil Aviation. They wanted us with our previous experience to be among the bidders, but we were more expensive compared with the competition.”

While others might seek to play down such a rejection, Batukan is unapologetic about his company’s pricing strategy and says that Anel’s insistence on quality in every facet of its operations occasionally places them at the higher end of a bidding battle, with predictable results.

“Being expensive is a marginal issue,” he says. “Airports are one of the mission critical sites which have to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are fault-tolerance sites and you have to have full redundancy with the best material and the best workmanship.

You cannot sacrifice the quality, whether you are the contractor, sub-contractor or client. But there are always ways to make the project cheaper such as the quality of manpower you are using. We use high-quality labour from certain countries that provides greater efficiency, but sometimes that preference makes our price higher.”

Notwithstanding this penchant for a high-price, Anel has still managed to become the MEP contractor of choice on the Hamad International Airport (formerly New Doha International Airport) in Qatar, where it established its GCC base in 2006.

Winning its first package on the airport in 2007 valued at $67m (QAR: 243.9m), the company has gone on to win a total of around $450m (QAR: 1.6bn) worth of work on the project and is currently executing the CP18 and CP99 packages there, which will keep it busy until March 2014.

However, more packages are on the horizon and, as the airport unfolds its expansion plans in the run-up to 2022, Anel is confident that it can continue to play a crucial role in its delivery.

Elsewhere, the contractor also has its eye on the upcoming Kuwait International Airport project, which Batukan expects to be put out to tender in the next two to three quarters. He foresees the airport offering a similar amount of work to that of Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal as it has a total budget of $4bn (KWD: 1.1bn).

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