Ağaoğlu opens Dubai office
Billionaire seeks to tap investors for Turkish mega-projects
The billionaire founder of the company responsible for developing a huge new financial district in Istanbul has opened an office in Dubai in a bid to attract investors to help fund its property schemes in the region.
Ali Ağaoğlu, founder and chairman of the Ağaoğlu Group of companies, said that the office was a bid "to build bridges between the developing country of Turkey and our Arabic friends".
A law of reciprocity came into force in Turkey last year which allows investors from GCC countries to buy properties in the country, and Ağaoğlu argues that domestic demand in a country whose GDP per capita is set to double to around $25,000 over the next decade is strong.
The company launched its Maslak 1453 project - a mixed-use scheme containing more than 5,200 office, residential and retail units - to Arabian investors at Cityscape Dubai last year. Groundworks for the project are already under way and it is expected to complete in 2015.
Yesterday, Ağaoğlu also discussed its plans for the Istanbul International Financial Centre - a 3.3m ft2 project which has the backing of the Turkish government with a view to concentrating key international banks whose offices are currently spread throughout Ankara and Istanbul into a single location. Ağaoğlu signed a deal to develop the project in December.
"Istanbul right now ranks around the 70s in the global financial centres list and we wanted to have a higher ranking," he said.
He said that the Turkish government had been working on changes to tax and business rules in order to make it easier for foreign companies to operate within the country. Currently, "the strength and power of these instutituions are separated" by their geographic spread.
The Turkish government has allocated a 3.3m ft2 area of land for the project and will base its own central bank within the district.
"And we have undertaken - as the Agaoglu group - the construction and infrastructure."
He added that there will be around 250,000m2 of sellable land available for investors in the area, which is also set to contain mosques, schools, a conference centre and housing for up to 30,000 people.
Ağaoğlu founded his company in 1981 and it now has a group of companies involved in construction, real estate, energy and tourism. It currently builds around 3-4,000 apartments per year for the domestic market and currently has around 12,000 on its schedule.
At the launch, Mr Ağaoğlu was also asked about his own wealth - he was ranked as the tenth-richest man in Turkey last year, with an estimated fortune of $2.1bn.
"It's not my main goal to become one of the wealthiest people in Turkey. I just try to serve my country and i just try to do my job in the best way possible and create employment and added value."