TBY talks to Akif Hasanov, President of Azinko Holding, on the rise of the company, its main construction projects, and its reaction to the global economic crisis.

What is the background to the Azinko Holding story? How did the company emerge as a major player on the Azerbaijani construction scene?

Practical works on establishing and developing construction companies with highly trained professional staff that are competitive and competent to manufacture products based on advanced scientific and high-tech achievements were founded by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev and are successfully being pursued by the respected President Ilham Aliyev. As a result of technical education and training programs initiated by the government after independence, private companies were quickly established. Azinko Holding started its activity in 2006 and includes eight independent companies active mainly in the construction field. It is no accident that Azinko Holding was presented with the “Ughur" (success) award for contributing to the revival of unique colors and national traditions in 2007 and 2008, and the Caspian Energy Award for its architectural approach to city building in 2009.

What are some of the major construction projects your company has been involved with in the Baku area, and what are some of your core urban development strategies?

Azinko Holding deals with the construction and reconstruction of hotels, multi-story buildings and residences, complexes, short-term resort houses, and business centers, as well as facilities and auxiliary units, project estimates, and technological and design works. We also produce construction materials such as cement and concrete, among others. Currently, Azinko Holding has nearly finished building multi-story residential buildings with a total living area of 400,000 sqm in 11 locations around Baku and in various locations across the Republic of Azerbaijan. We completed the Dalga Plaza Business Center, a high-class office complex built to international standards, in 2010.

“Azinko Holding is successful because of its commitment to modern and international construction norms."

How do the five core subsidiaries in Azinko Holding create synergies when bidding for and completing construction projects?

Azinko Holding is successful because of its commitment to modern and international construction norms, while following rich and ancient architectural and city-building traditions. In addition, we benefit from the experience of leading global construction companies, as well as a high level of organization, and professional and highly qualified staff with a rapid management system based on strict discipline. One of Azinko Holding's priorities is to forge long-term relationships with well-known, leading businessmen as well as to strengthen and deepen existing relationships. Our advanced management system enables us to work together efficiently and reliably.

Have you collaborated with foreign companies on luxury hotel projects?

I would like to highlight just one of our projects. Hotel Bilgah is being constructed on the coast on about 10 hectares of land east of the Absheron peninsula. The luxury hotel complex includes 14 two-story cottages. The hotel building is a modern architectural example of a 17-story cascade building. It will contain 176 ordinary, semi-luxury, luxury, and apartment suites as well as a cinema and concert hall, main dining hall, restaurant, discotheques, open café, banquet room, swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, Turkish hamam, and spa. With a total area of 1,300 sqm, the contract was signed with UAE-based company Jumeirah—one of the world's most well-known tourism and hotel companies implementing design and interior works and staff training.

The construction materials sector has been trying to keep up with demand as Azerbaijan develops. How has your company sought to solve shortages in the construction materials market?

This issue was targeted in our strategic plans. That's why we organized the production of construction materials, including cement, concrete, and white stone coverings at our plants almost since the date of Azinko's establishment. In addition, we follow long-term cooperation principles in our economic relations. This allows us to be recognized as a reliable partner, as well as serving as a mainstay for the provision and supply of construction materials not produced by our company via other companies on time and in the amounts required.

The Baku White City project is seen as marking the next wave of construction activity in the city. Is Azinko Holding looking to take part in the project?

As one of the flagships of Azerbaijan's construction sector, our company considers that one of its major missions is to be involved in any major project in Baku city and right around the country. Therefore, we plan to actively take part in the White City project.

What strategies did Azinko Holding use to cope with the slowdown in construction activity during the global financial crisis? Are we beginning to see a return to growth for construction activity in Azerbaijan now?

In order to defend its leading position in the construction market, our company always endeavors to execute both social and individual projects equally. This was achieved as a result of following market proposals, as well as reacting to changes on time and by making timely economic analysis. Thereafter, Azinko Holding will do its best to continue its work in the construction of modern buildings, as well as on refurbishment and reconstruction, currently conducted in our republic under the leadership of our distinguished President Ilham Aliyev, who has carried forward the economic progress achieved by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev.

© The Business Year - August 2011