MAKING WAY

Turkey 2016 | EXECUTIVE GUIDE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Güvenç Ketenci, Managing Partner of Ketenci & Ketenci, on the challenges facing investors in Turkey, corporate acquisition and mergers, and the general business climate of the country.

 Güvenç Ketenci
BIOGRAPHY
Güvenç Ketenci advises on corporate, commercial, and energy law, and represents top-tier corporations. He worked as a visiting solicitor in the UK. In 2013, Global Law Experts listed him as a leading commercial lawyer. He is a member of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, the British-Turkish Lawyers Association, also the Founder of European Lawyers, where he is currently Chairman.

What are the main challenges faced by investors coming to Turkey?

Turkey is an emerging market with many attractions, but there are also some difficulties due to instability in the region. Other issues are law enforcement and transparency, which are critical determinants for investment. Reforms are needed to fight corruption, increase transparency, and tackle the unregulated gray economy. Court procedures in Turkey can also take long time. On the plus side, Turkey is a base for the delivery of products and services, with its location serving as a gateway between Europe and Asia. Efforts to be attuned to the EU are an important factor attracting investors. Furthermore, according to OECD, the country is expected to become the second fastest growing country as of 2018. Investors may benefit from Turkish partners that have access throughout Asia, the Caucasus, and the MENA region. Another advantage is that the Turkish population is a consumerist middle class growing steadily.

What is the timing like for mergers and acquisitions in Turkey at the moment?

Mergers and acquisitions are continuing, though not at as high a level as in 2010-11. The New Commercial Code provided improvements to the procedure of M&As. Considering the facts that European business ethics and modern management practices are implemented and use of English is increasing; I believe there will be more large M&As.

How would you describe the business environment in Turkey?

Turkey is an investor-friendly environment. It has become an energy hub, and is amongst the important players in oil and gas in the region. The government also supports investments in the renewable energy. Other booming businesses are IT, real estate, and construction. I would tell foreign investors to do due diligence before investing. Turkish companies are generally family businesses, so there may be issues concerning professionalism, and Turkish parties do not like any surprises; it is important to lay everything out before proceeding. I advise entrepreneurs to work with legal and tax professionals from the very first stages.

How would you assess the Turkish legal framework for foreign investors?

Legislation for foreign investment complies with international standards. Turkey is a party to organizations such as G-20, OECD, ILO, WTO, IMF, and several international contracts, and tax treaties. Foreign legal persons can be founders and shareholders of companies. The New Commercial Code accelerated the restructuring of companies to international standards.
Istanbul has always been a commercial center. But it is time to consider other cities in Anatolia, Black Sea, and Mediterranean. The government is offering new incentives when investing in the East and Southeast. I can sincerely advise to investors to enter into the Turkish market. Our target is to stand as a “one-stop shop,” by serving as a connection point between investors and all authorities in the process.

What competitive advantages does Ketenci & Ketenci bring to the legal services market?

We advise investors from Europe and the US, mostly Fortune 500 companies. We provide crystal clear and comprehensive legal advice to foreign investors. With the entry of US law firms, the legal market is expanding in Turkey. We work closely with international law firms, with affiliated offices in New York, London, and Milan. As for the difference we make; we guide our clients to understand the economics and business culture here. We keep our clients informed at all stages, assist them to take business decisions, and provide additional services on accountancy and tax. Litigation and dispute resolution procedures are also important. Owing to our full-service structure, our clients are ensured that they have a reliable contact.