The Sale of Sabah and ATV – Erase and Rewind
I guess this was a song of the Cardigans: Erase and Rewind… Thinking about the sale of Turkeys’s second biggest media giant Sabah Newspaper and the ATV to the Calik Group reminds me this song. Erdogan’s AKP takes its name “Adalet-Justice” from the re-loaded meaning of “Justice” in Turkey. The First one was Süleyman Demirel’s “Justice Party – Adalet Partisi” of the 1960s and 70s, it took its name “Justice” to give justice back to the former DP-members who have been purged by the 1960 military coup. SÜleyman Demirel though had the chance by the end of 1960s did not seize the opportunity to give the “justice” back to the former members of the DP, say it due to a strategic calculation or the fear of the “army”. AKP’s “justice” is an appeal to put an end to the notorious 90s. An era which witnessed all kinds of corruption, mismanagement, and calamities. One of the issues which needed “Justice” and was promised to be delivered by Mr. Erdogan was the issue of the media and the usage of state levarage to parachute government-friendly figures to own banks or other lucrative issues such as the media.
“According to Gareth Jenkins “On March 2007, Calik appointed Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s 26 year-old son-in-law, as the holding’s general manager” (1). It is a well-known fact that the CEO of the Calik Holding, Ahmet Calik is a close associate of Mr. Erdogan. Calik Holding made its fame in its investment in Turkmenistan throughout the 1990s and 2000s. We can also trace Calik back to Turgut Özal’s Central Asian opening. He was one of the industrialists who understood Özal’s guidance in investment and carefully took the step to fill in the gap in Turkmenistan. Calik Holding became famous in Turkey especially about the Telecom bid which they lost to Oger Holding (2). However, they became ever famous by their bid to buy the Sabah-Atv Group.
On December 2007, The Calik Holding bid 1.1 billion $ for the Sabah-ATV group, in a bargain every other party refrained to take part, due to government’s implicit remarks that they want this deal to be done without meddling. The problems began in the aftermath of the sale, there were serious rumours that the Calik Holding will not be able to find the required sum, and up until three days to the deadline it seemed to be so. The interesting thing began afterwards, the Calik Holding announced that two-state owned banks, namely the Halkbank and the Vakif Bank agreed to give a 375 million § each as a loan to the holding. They also announced that the rest of the deal will be paid by the Al Wasaeel International Media Company.Al Wasaell is currently a low-profile Qatari company and according to the Turkish Daily News no entry about it can be found in the biggest search engine for companies, Bloomberg (3). According to Hurriyet “It also added that Calik accompanied Gul in February and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in April in their visits to Qatar. The Qatar Investment Authority decided to establish a separate company to invest in ATV-Sabah a couple of months ago” (4).
The contoversy around the purchase of the Sabah-ATV group grew as Hurriyet reports by the latest remarks of the President Abdullah Gül. We can also see a similarity between Turgut Özal’s “entrepreneur President Mentality” which meant heading the business circles in foreign visits, trying to contact them with the finance sectors of host countries, and from time to time directly involve in economic transactions. Özal had the capacity due to his technocratic background on economics and his closeness and sympathy around the Middle Eastern circles due to his “Naqshibendi connections”. Nevertheless, President Gül, an academic on economics and a long time member of Arab Development Bank aims to continue this heritage. Coming back to the theme, to quote:
“Turkish President Abdullah Gul admitted on Friday that he introduced the Qatari Emir to the chairman of Calik Group but claims he does not know the details of their meetings. (seriesofhopes note: February 2008)“I introduced Mr.Calik, who will construct the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline, to the Qatari Amir regarding energy issues during my visit to Damascus. This is true. But I am not only close to him, I have close relations with all members of the business world (in Turkey). I help them with their businesses outside Turkey,“ Gul told reporters. ” (5).
The situation is again an erase and rewind situation, populist political parties come to power through populist appeal, however, justice is just a name on the party’s boards.
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