Jun. 8, 2015


Adigozal Agayev

Azerbaijan

Adigozal Agayev

Chairman of the Executive Board , AtaHolding

TBY talks to Adigozal Agayev, Chairman of Executive Board of AtaHolding, on the long-term benefits of the first European Games for the country and rising potential in the agriculture and hospitality sectors.

BIO

Adigozal Agayev is an Economist-Engineer who graduated from the Azerbaijan National Economy Institute's Department of General Economics in 1983. He started as an Economist in the Accounting Center of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1985, and became group leader in 1987. He then took on the role of Senior Economist and Chief Economist at the Agrarian Industrial Bank in 1989-1992. He moved to the National Bank of Azerbaijan as a Senior Inspector and as a Deputy Director of the Department of Inspection over 1993-1997. He was appointed Head of the Department of Control over Credit Organizations at the same bank in 2001, and in 2004 was in charge of a newly established group that brought IFRS standards to the National Bank in collaboration with USAID experts. He joined AtaHolding as Head of the Finance Department in January 2005, and later became Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board and a member of the Audit Committee in December 2005. At present, he is the Chairman of the Executive Board of AtaHolding.

AtaHolding has always had a specific focus on the development of sport. With the First European Games approaching, what preparations and developments have AtaHolding made for the event?

This competition is in the spotlight of not only the continent but of the entire global community. Hosting such a memorable event will bring recognition to Azerbaijan and embed our capital city in many peoples' memories. Baku will always be remembered and associated with the European Games, just like Athens is associated with all Summer Olympics. In December 2012, the 41st General Assembly of the European Olympics Committee in Rome held a vote where 38 out of 48 participants voted for our country. This means that the majority of European countries have a strong belief in Azerbaijan and rely on us to deliver an outstanding performance. In relation to the European Games, a significant share of responsibility falls on AtaHolding, an institution that has always supported the development of sports, sponsoring international federations, and international competitions. Currently, AtaHolding is the main sponsor of the International Federation of Wrestling, and one of the sponsors for the International Hockey Federation. Distinguished athletes from our holding's sports club, AtaSport, will also join Baku 2015, and we hope that they will properly appreciate the attention afforded to them by the government and deliver outstanding performances. In addition to continuously supporting the competitions, we will always stand beside our athletes and provide any support for them to gain victories.

Once the First European Games are finished, what are the long-term opportunities that AtaHolding can benefit from?

The European Games will bring Azerbaijan global recognition, foster the development of tourism, and is an opportunity to demonstrate Azerbaijan's culture and history, as well as inform the global community about the Karabakh conflict. The long-term benefits of the event for our country will positively affect AtaHolding's activities as well. Every company operates in a certain environment, which can in turn be divided into an external and an internal environment. While the internal environment mainly depends on factors under the company's control, the external environment is different. The external environment is affected by a number of factors, which are beyond the control of even the strongest companies. Successful political measures implemented by our President Ilham Aliyev will have a positive long-term impact on every private entity's operations, including AtaHolding. When it comes to particular business achievements, we see this project as a major opportunity to expand the tourism capacity of Azerbaijan. We, in turn, are supporting the establishment of necessary infrastructure to reach this goal, and hope that the tourists who are expected to visit the country will benefit from our company's services.

Shamkir Poultry represents AtaHolding's current interest in agriculture, a sector that is an increasingly important contributor to national GDP. What further opportunities will the national focus on agriculture provide for AtaHolding?

The government's special focus on the development of the non-oil sector, in particular the agricultural sector, has resulted in rapid and intensive development. In addition, one of the factors supporting rapid development and growth of the sector is almost full tax exemption of the agrarian sector enterprises. It was announced that 2015 will be the Year of Agriculture, which will greatly benefit and trigger development in the non-oil sector. With the view of all the aforementioned factors, it is not hard to foresee significant successes and achievements in the agricultural sector in the near future. AtaHolding has a great responsibility in relation to the development of the agricultural sector. As an investment company, we are prepared to invest in segments of the economy to foster its growth. Looking at Shamkir Poultry in particular, the farm started operating in the early 1970s. In 2005, the plant was reconstructed, and at the time became one of the largest projects implemented in Azerbaijan. The plant specializes mainly in egg production and received a $5 million investment at the initial stage. In 2012, the plant received a second stage investment of around $11 million. As a result, the plant's production capacity increased by 6-7 times. Currently, Shamkir Poultry plant is providing around 10% of the country's egg production and almost fully meets egg demand of the west and northwest regions, where it is located.

The Excelsior Hotel is AtaHolding's major investment in the five-star hotel industry. How would you assess the impact of increasing competition in the five-star sector?

Excelsior Hotel Baku is one of the most admirable and attractive hotels of the capital, which has gained great affection by visitors to Baku. The hotel is providing various services, and high-level facilities to leave positive impressions and feelings in the memories of its guests and ensure that they return in the future. Growing demand for five-star hotels in Azerbaijan is an indicator of the potential for investment flow and tourism potential, which is a good sign for us. We are proud that Excelsior Hotel Baku was the first five-star hotel to open in Azerbaijan and has significantly contributed to the development of the hotel industry. The hotel's high-quality services demonstrate to the world that service standards in Azerbaijan are consistent with global standards. Azerbaijan is hosting a number of important international events, and many prominent global companies and businesspersons are coming to Azerbaijan to set up business here. I believe that growing competition in the hotel business will greatly benefit the Excelsior Hotel Baku. Such competition during the European Games is the prerequisite for all foreign visitors and guests to leave Azerbaijan with a feeling of satisfaction. This factor itself is a strong driver for future prosperity of tourism and a growing and positive reputation for our homeland in Europe.

With such a wide range of investments, AtaHolding is represented in many fields of the economy. What will be the primary focus in 2015?

Our main priority is to contribute to Azerbaijan's reputation, development, and success in all areas. We will try our best to benefit from the Year of Agriculture to the most extent possible. In relation to our future priorities, we are looking into market growth tendencies and selecting economically more attractive areas. Currently, our objective is to maintain our leading position in the banking and insurance sectors. Our marketing strategy concentrates mainly on the financial sector, which is a rapidly growing area of the local economy. Our target is to develop our company further through products based on innovative technologies. All of our subsidiary entities apply corporate governance practices, advanced technologies, and modern quality standards. Overall, we are trying to use innovative technologies in all areas of the local market.

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