Turkish Billionaire Ferit Sahenk Is Looking to Sell More Assets

  • First-half loss at Dogus Holding widened to $383 million
  • Company has been investing heavily in unprofitable businesses

Billionaire Ferit Sahenk is in talks to sell stakes in some of the assets he’s been investing in since selling Turkey’s biggest listed bank to Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, including his restaurants, car-distribution operation, hotels and marinas.

Sahenk’s conglomerate, Dogus Holding AS, could strike a deal with investors for one or more of those assets in 2018, Husnu Akhan, Dogus’s chief executive officer, said at a conference in Istanbul on Tuesday.

The group’s restaurant business D.ream, also known as Dogus Restaurant Entertainment and Management, plans further international expansion with its steakhouse chain Nusr-Et, which Sahenk bought from founder Nusret Gokce, the Turkish butcher who gained international fame under his alter-ego, “Salt Bae.” D.ream operates more than 160 outlets including Zuma, Da Mario, Fenix, Ruya, Gina and Gunaydin, according to its website. Fenix and Da Mario will open shops in Dallas, he said.

“We want to expand our restaurant and hotels business next year and continue getting our brands out to international consumers,” Akhan said.

The group’s biggest investment with a local partner next year will be in another line of business with Galataport, a $1.5 billion project to build a cruise port and a compound of shopping malls on the Bosporus in central Istanbul, he said. Peninsula Hotels is signed on as the hotel partner for the project.

Heavy Spending

In tourism, Dogus aims to increase its number of hotels to 25 in three years from 19, Akhan said. Current holdings include the Hyatt Regency in Istanbul, Villa Magna in Madrid and Aldrovandi Villa Borghese in Rome, as well as marinas.

Sahenk also owns Volkswagen AG’s sole distributor in Turkey, Dogus Otomotiv Servis ve Ticaret.

The 53-year-old billionaire, once Turkey’s richest man, has been spending heavily on restaurants, marinas and hotels after selling his 31 percent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS to BBVA for almost $5.5 billion in three transactions since 2010.

Dogus Holding’s loss widened to 1.48 billion liras ($383 million) in the first six months of 2017 from 276 million liras in the same period of the previous year, according to its website. Among the seven industries in which it operates - including construction, media and energy - the automotive business was the only profit maker, according to the company website.

The company’s total outstanding debt was 21.3 billion liras at end-June, or about $5.5 billion, equivalent to the proceeds from the sale of Garanti.

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