Interview: Ali Agaoglu, Agaoglu Group

Interview: Ali Agaoglu, Agaoglu Group
Ali Agaogulu hopes his company will "become a prominent brand, not only in Turkey, but in the world".
Published: 25 May 2013 - 4:01 p.m.
By: Michael Fahy

Ali Ağaoğlu is a man who appears to be making hay while the sun shines. The construction and property development group he owns has expanded to take in hospitality and energy interests, and employs more than 10,000.

Last year, the construction and property business alone achieved a 130% growth in sales to around $870m, which included the sale of 2,924 properties. This year, it is aiming for sales of over $1bn.

It is also responsible for delivering two of the biggest construction projects under way in Istanbul – the new $5bn Istanbul Financial Centre and the Maslak 1453 project, which has been described as Turkey’s biggest construction project on a 32.5-hectare site to the north of Istanbul.

Ağaoğlu has been in the construction business for all of his life, initially stepping in to run his father’s business during a period when the latter was unwell.

However, despite the fact that he improved the business the pair clashed, with Ağaoğlu describing him as “an old-timer who did not want to change”.

He decided to quit and set up his own business instead.

“This situation which seemed to be negative at the time was, in one respect, the best thing that ever happened to me as it was something that motivated me and gave me the passion to realise my goals,” he said.

Ağaoğlu set up his first company, Akdeniz Construction and Training Services, in 1981 at the age of 27. It is now the centerpiece of an empire which contains 30 different businesses and employs more than 320 in-house architects and engineers and an overall staff of 10,000.

Ağaoğlu has also become both rich and influential. He is a longstanding friend of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since selling a villa to his brother-in-law in 1990.

US magazine Forbes also puts him as the eighth-richest man in Turkey, with an estimated net worth of $2.7bn.

He said that the group has been built by “avoiding running after speculative gains and always sticking to the real economy”.

Construction has been the cornerstone, with the firm building more than 30,000 units since its inception. However, he also has some interests in the energy sector and in hospitality, where he owns four hotels and has medium-term ambitions to build eight more.

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