TBY talks to Baran Umut Baycan, Founding Senior Partner of Baycan Law Office, on offering top-notch advice and support to clients operating in the local mining sector.

Baran Umut Baycan
Baran Umut Baycan was called to the bar in November 2000. Between 1999 and 2002 he worked at Iplikçioðlu Law Office, and later worked at Park Holding and ATV Television Legal Department. Baycan Law Office was established in Istanbul in 2005. He is also a member of the Istanbul Bar Association, and the General Manager of HPD Law Magazine.

How does Baycan Law Office leverage its experience and reputation to provide the most innovative and expert advice for its clients?

On the basis of our experience in the mining sector mainly and many years of legal practise in Turkey, we approach our clients as business partners. We evaluate their business plan and targets together based on their attitudes and mid- to long-term plans. We use all of our legal, financial, and networking skills to assist our clients in the most effective way. We have changed the old-school lawyer attitude, and we have an innovative approach to creating business solutions for our clients. Our law firm consists of lawyers and consultants who have expertise in mining law and administrative law, which constitute the basis of our operations in the mining sector. Within this scope, our firm is familiar with large- and small-scale mining firms, provides its experience to firms that intend to work in the mining area, shares its knowledge regarding the functioning of public institutions, and cooperates with ministries and general directorates for revisions to the Mining Law. As we have a power of disposition on regulations, our firm can therefore inspect the suitability of transactions prior to applications and, in this regard, we act as a preventive mechanism.

What distinguishes Baycan Law Office among Turkish commercial law firms?

Our sectorial experience that focuses on mining and energy is a distinguishing factor for Baycan Law Office. The legal and financial solutions we have found for our clients so far have become a good example and the best advertisement of our skills and experience. For this reason, Baycan Law Office has increased its reputation and developed a good name in the mining sector. Also, with the management and direction of our Officer Partner İsmail Biçer, all of our team members are ready to assist our clients at any time of day. Our main objective is to assist our clients and, as most of our clients are foreign companies, to make them feel that they have a good partner in Turkey who is always ready to assist.

How does Turkey compare to other mining investment destinations globally?

The Turkish government provides attractive incentives for every type of investment, and especially FDI. These are supportive regulations that have been enacted to draw the attention of foreign investors. In addition to that, in the mining sector, amendments to the regulations are all being made for one reason: to support a real, solid, and focused mining investor with financial capabilities. Our Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Taner Yıldız, is always ready to deal with the problems faced by investors and companies. In addition, Hamdi Yıldırım, General Manager of the General Directorate of Mining Affairs, is always ready to assist foreign investors. Current legislation and the attitude of bureaucrats and the administrative organs are friendly to investors.

How would you characterize the growth of Turkey's gold mining sector over the past decade?

The increase over the last 10 years is a good signal for the future. There are several mines in operation and there are other mines being developed, too. Today, market prices for gold might seem negative for the gold sector; however, if you examine gold prices over the last 30 years, it is possible that it will increase at any time. The Turkish mining sector is growing and we are happy to be part of it. In order to be successful, it is important to establish a business with the right people, the right partner, and the right resources to get ahead in the gold mining sector in Turkey.

Turkey's gold mining sector has been dominated by international firms so far. Is this a trend that you expect to continue in the future?

This is true to some extent; however, there are several leading Turkish gold mining companies that are very large and have the potential to dominate in the international scene, too. For this reason, it is hard to say that gold mining sector in Turkey is dominated by international firms; however, this statement might be true in quantitative terms when it comes to foreign investors. This could perhaps be due to the extensive experience needed in the gold mining sector and the long-term profits that are reaped. Beyond any doubt, Turkish investors will take into account the potential long-term profits and play a more efficient role in the sector. However, the lack of technical experience will necessitate the cooperation of Turkish and foreign firms.

Which segments of Turkey's energy sector will present the greatest opportunities for investors in the coming years?

Turkey has a growing energy demand. Because of that need today, and for the future, especially with Turkey's admirable goal of being the 10th largest economy by 2023, there are many opportunities for investors. Recently, the excitement created by the shale gas/shale oil “revolution" in America has generated interest in Turkey regarding her shale gas and shale oil potential. The media attention and the ratification of the new petroleum law coupled with the fact that Turkey is heavily reliant on the importation of oil and gas to meet its growing energy demands has created excitement within the government and the industry. The shale gas industry here in Turkey is really in its infancy stage. We do not know what the real shale gas/oil resource potential is. Therefore, there are great opportunities for the right investors who have the technical know-how and appetite to explore for a shale gas/oil resource. Additionally, Turkey has large lignite reserves. The government has placed an emphasis on utilizing these reserves for power generation to help meet her energy needs; which presents a good opportunity for investors.

What is your prediction for Turkey's mining and energy sectors over the medium term?

In the energy sector, Turkey has a large account deficit with a large percentage of that associated with petroleum and gas imports. Turkey's energy needs are increasing; and where there is a need, there is an opportunity.