What have been the major areas of focus in 2014 for Cahan Holding?
President Ilham Aliyev declared 2014 the Year of Industry, which became a crucial event for the whole country, and Cahan Holding in particular. For many years, the oil sector was the key industry for Azerbaijan, and remained the most profitable. The diversification of Azerbaijan's economy is a significant and important objective. Non-oil industries contribute over 60% to national GDP and are growing at an annual rate of 8%, which clearly indicates that their input into the overall growth of the economy is increasing. In line with these developments, we have put our maximum effort into finishing the new industrial complex in Nakhchivan. This complex will include four different production facilities, including tobacco materials, a tea factory, a PVC profile factory, and a metal construction factory. All four already exist, but are spread out across the city; we will place them all under one roof. We will also add high-end technological production lines, which will meet the highest standards for the next 20 years.
It was mentioned that the Boulevard Project was an important scheme for 2014 and 2015. At what stage is this project currently?
We are proud of our Boulevard Project. We already have already begun Phase I of construction. Since the grand opening, Nakchivan Boulevard has gained popularity among the people. Now, the people of Nakhchivan are able to spend their free time for leisure and shopping. We have attracted well-known regional clothing and public catering brands to this project, and now we can say that Nakhchivan overtakes cities of the mainland of Azerbaijan, such as Baku, Ganja, and Guba, for example. Within the next few years, we will implement Phase II, which includes upgrading neighboring territories and extending the existing promenade.
What new areas of business is Cahan Holding pursuing, and what is the reason for these?
We would like to continue developing the sectors we are already active. In 2015, we are going to finalize our industrial complex, and consolidate all production facilities we have right now. This complex will provide us with an opportunity to attract more ideas about how we can use it and create more work places. For example, together with our Italian partners, we are discussing the possibilities of installing a new production line for new generation heating panels, which we think have a great market in Azerbaijan and the near-by region. This relates to construction materials production, which we are already dealing with. We are always searching for new business projects and are open for discussion of any interesting proposals.
What opportunities can the upcoming first European Games provided for Cahan Holding, both during the event and in the aftermath?
As a businessman dealing with partners from all around the world, I can say that today Azerbaijan is known much better than 10-15 years ago. The whole country, the government, and the President spent many years to achieve working this result. Now, we should show the world how stable the economy of Azerbaijan is, what our main objectives are and how we continue to develop in the long run. Many people who come to Azerbaijan for the first time are surprised to see such a vibrant country and such an advanced economy. Also, those people who have been to the country a while agree that Azerbaijan has moved forward significantly. By hosting such a major event as first European Games, we can introduce Azerbaijan to the world sports society, as we did for the music audience when we hosted Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. Cahan Holding owns Days Hotel, which is a four-star hotel. Together with Wyndham Hotel Group, we operate this beautiful property, and we are looking forward to hosting numerous guests of the first European Games at our hotel.
Who are some of Cahan Holdings most prominent international partners?
The philosophy of Cahan Holding stipulates that we must maintain friendly relationships with all of our partners. We always adhere to our slogan “Strength in Unity" and our partners accept this golden rule as well. Each of them endows in the common business and that helps all of us to achieve objectives and best possible results. It is always a pleasure when our partners appreciate us at our true value; for example, Red Bull nominated us for a special recognition award alongside other international representatives. In 2015, we will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. We have been working with some of our partners for over a decade, and this means a great deal to us and our partners. We are proud to say that we have been working for many years with multinational companies such us JTI, Red Bull, GM, and others, and we are happy about the result of our work.
What is the potential for new investors or partners to cooperate with Cahan Holding in the medium term?
In January, 2015 was declared the Year of Agriculture by the President of the country. This gave us an extra boost and draws our attention to tobacco cultivation—a project we started a long time ago. This project has a great potential, especially in Nakhchivan, because it has sunnier and warmer days, and provides best conditions for growing tobacco. This could become a major incentive for our future business partners and investors.