Turkish Billionaire Ulker to Pursue M&A Deals After DeMet’s

Murat Ulker, the Turkish billionaire who controls Godiva chocolates, said he has at least $500 million in cash for acquisitions this year after buying DeMet’s Candy Co. for $221 million.

Gozde Girisim Sermayesi Yatirim Ortakligi AS, the private equity unit of Ulker’s Yildiz Holding AS, is in talks with a foreign fund to sell a 11.6 percent stake at Islamic lender Turkiye Finans Katilim Bankasi AS, Ulker said in a news conference in Istanbul yesterday. Partners of Turkiye Finans, which are Turkey’s Boydak group and Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, didn’t want the stake when offered to them, Ulker said.

Yildiz, whose main business is manufacturing and selling biscuit, candies and chocolates, agreed last week to sell yeast maker Dosu Maya to France’s Lesaffre et Cie SA for $220 million, he said. Yildiz and a partner bought Dosu from the country’s banking fund for $106 million in 2010, Ulker said. Ulker’s net worth is at least $1.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We always have a billion liras or more in our pocket and use it in portfolio investments all around the world,” Ulker said. “We can’t keep this money deposited in banks. We are constantly monitoring regions for acquisition opportunities.”

Candy Man

Yildiz, owner of Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi AS, Turkey’s biggest maker of confectioneries, will revise its sales targets for 2014 after political turmoil caused the lira to decline 12 percent, the most in emerging markets, since Dec. 17, Ulker said. The company’s sales probably rose as much as 18 percent in 2013 from the previous year’s of 12.4 billion liras ($5.4 billion), he said.

The Istanbul-based group of companies, which receives 84 percent of sales from food-related units in partnerships including those with Cargill Inc., Nissin Foods Holdings Co. and McCormick & Co., bought assets worth 709 million liras including beet sugar refiner Adapazari Seker and discount retailer Diasa in 2013. Asset sales, including an Ulker share sale, amounted to 1.05 billion liras, Ulker said.

Yildiz applied to the Ankara-based capital markets regulator for permission to increase Gozde’s capital 186 percent to 385 million liras, the company said Jan. 14.

“We are increasing capital at Gozde instead of selling shares to the market,” Ulker said.

Yildiz Holding is seeking to sell a yacht marina at Pendik, near Istanbul, to a local buyer. Koc Holding AS, Turkey’s biggest business group, is among interested companies, Ulker said. The company will continue sponsoring Turkey Super League soccer leader Fenerbahce and second-ranking Galatasaray until 2016 through the Ulker brand, he said.

Yildiz Holding doesn’t plan to sell 4.9 percent stake at BIM Birlesik Magazalar AS, Turkey’s biggest grocer, because the stock “is increasing its value,” Ulker said.

“I don’t want to make acquisitions that go beyond the cash I have in my hand,” said Ulker. “I want to cut my coat according to my cloth.”

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