50 years in the pursuit of technology and science

In 2006 Tekfen enthusiastically celebrated its 50th anniversary. The foundation for the company was laid by three young entrepreneurs, Feyyaz Berker, Nihat Gökyiğit and Necati Akçağlılar when they came together in 1956 to realize their ideals. The three co-founders first met at the Ministry of Public Works, where they were employed upon returning from civil engineering studies in America. Two of the partners, and later the third one, left their state offices and teamed up in order to found Tekfen. Tekfen's 50 year history, starting in a ramshackle laboratory and evolving into an enterprise with a billion dollar turnover, is a true story of success.

 
The birth of Tekfen: Initial enterprises

The first seed of Tekfen Holding was planted when Feyyaz Berker and Ali Nihat Gökyiğit started an engineering and consultancy firm by the name of "Feyyaz-Nihat Consultant Engineering" (FN), established at a time when engineering was growing in importance and when there was a rapid increase in construction activities in the country due to Turkey's joining NATO. With limited capital and resources, they set up a laboratory to provide services in consultancy, engineering and control. In this laboratory, material testing and soil analysis for contractors was performed, consultancy services on topics such as the evaluation of sand and gravel mines were provided, ground studies were performed, and quality control was carried out.

FN's first assignment was to furnish services in relation to the construction of the Sinop airport. Their second important experience consisted of providing laboratory and control services for Veziroğlu Construction, contractor for a number of roads during the urban development activities in İstanbul that had been commissioned by Adnan Menderes, prime minister at the time.

 

Drawing on their growing confidence and the contact network they obtained from these experiences, Feyyaz Berker and Nihat Gökyiğit established FN's sister company Tekfen Construction Ltd. in 1957 with the aim of carrying out activities in the field of construction in addition to the existing consultancy services. The company name "Tekfen" was forged from the Turkish words for technology and science, thus manifesting the two partners' corporate philosophy. Tekfen's first assignment was the stabilization of roadway shoulders at 9 NATO airports built in various places around Turkey.

After the third partner, Necati Akçağlılar, left the chairmanship of the Department of Turkish Airports and Fuel Stations in 1959 and joined the Feyyaz-Nihat twosome, the consultancy firm changed its name to "Feyyaz-Nihat-Necati Engineering Consultancy" or FNN in short. Together, the three began making giant leaps in the field of construction. The addition of Necati Akçağlılar's management skills to Feyyaz Berker's laboratory expertise and Nihat Gökyiğit's construction site experience increased Tekfen's ability to approach projects from many angles, and also brought about a division of labor between the three associates.

 

 
New fields, new opportunities

Tekfen's first assignments focused on construction work that did not require special expertise, such as basic construction and excavation. Tekfen subsequently took part as a subcontractor in a project led by the Williams Brothers firm to build two 6-inch fuel oil pipelines under the Bosphorus. This was Tekfen's first acquaintance with pipeline projects, and the first step in a process that has culminated in Tekfen emerging as an esteemed brand among the worlds' pipeline contractors.

 

In the early 1960s, Turkey was witnessing a great deal of investment in heavy industry as well as medium and light industry, and this led Tekfen to focus more on industrial and infrastructural construction. In this period, Tekfen executed some of the basic construction work in the building of the Ereğli Iron-Steel Factory, which started in 1961 with the purpose of meeting Turkey's need for rolled iron-steel. Tekfen also undertook the construction of the Gülüç Dam, which provided the factory's water for cooling and consumption. This was one of the most extensive projects executed by Tekfen up to that date.

Tekfen carried out most of its initial work in the field of pipelines and oil-gas facilities as a subcontractor of foreign companies. The superior performance displayed combined with the experience obtained from these projects opened up new opportunities for the company. For instance, the 4.5-inch 10 km long collection pipelines at Bulgurdağı and the 8-inch Kürkan-Pirinçlik pipeline were among some of the first pipelines Tekfen constructed independently, and served as preparation for bigger projects that were to be undertaken in later years. The construction of the Istanbul Oil Refinery (İpraş), one of Turkey's biggest petrochemical plants, was also commenced in the same period. This is one of the many plants that carry the mark of Tekfen to every corner of Turkey.

Connecting the oil field in Batman with İskenderun Bay, the 493 km long Batman-İskenderun Crude Oil Pipeline project began in 1965. As the biggest pipeline constructed in Turkey thus far, it takes its place among Tekfen's noteworthy enterprises. Continuously expanding its experience in the fields of pipelines, liquid and gas storage tanks and industrial plants as well as improving its equipment, Tekfen was also greatly commended by the employers at a time when the number of companies that were able to offer these types of services were only but a few, and the company soon attained the status of an indispensable choice for both local and foreign project owners.

 
The first step towards industrial production

Another significant development in the first half of the 1960s was the decision by the three associates to begin producing light bulbs, a move which would introduce the Tekfen name to a wider audience. Established in İstanbul with the purpose of investing in industry in response to the inconsistency in the flow of work and money in the construction sector, the light bulb factory started operating in mid-1964, and within a short time Tekfen had one third of the light bulb market. Tekfen did not approach lighting merely as a commercial activity restricted to production, but at the same time as a matter of engineering and public education, and for this purpose the company set up the Tekfen Lighting Institute on the ground floor of the factory. Tekfen's manifold approach to lighting was further enriched by a second factory established in İzmit in 1966 for the manufacturing of bulbs and fluorescent lamps in association with Philips. Because the factory was damaged by the earthquake in 1999 and because Turkey had ceased being an attractive market for light bulb production, it was decided to move the production to China in 2002.

 
 
Moving forward and gaining ground

Tekfen Construction Limited Company moved to İstanbul in 1967, and attaining status as a joint stock company, it took the name of Tekfen Construction Co., Inc. Ensuring physical growth with bigger and more extensive construction projects on the one hand, the company also aimed at attaining a structure capable of undertaking manufacturing work in addition to the company's construction projects. Thus, Tekfen Construction and Installation Co., Inc. (TİTAŞ) was established, and its first project was the construction of the Tofaş factory, one of the pillars of the automobile industry in Turkey.

In the early 1970s, almost all of the company's activity was directed towards oil and gas plants, pipelines and industrial facilities and this also engendered the need for heavy steel production and fittings. This led to the establishment of a production plant in Derince under the auspices of Tekfen Manufacturing and Engineering Co., Inc. in 1970. The plant manufactured industrial products such as pressured and non-pressured storage tanks, heat exchangers, condensers and steam boilers in conformity with international standards. In later years, this plant was supplemented by a manufacturing workshop in Ceyhan specializing in steel constructions, thereby significantly improving Tekfen's manufacturing skills.

 
 

As the starting year for the Irak-Turkey Crude Oil Pipeline project, 1975 represents a crucial moment in Tekfen's chronology. Tekfen Construction carried out the construction of two separate 84 km and 70 km sections of the pipeline on the Turkish side as well as the tank farm and sea terminal in Ceyhan. As a direct result of partaking in this gigantic project as a subcontractor, Tekfen Construction increased its revenue many-fold, expanded its machine park and gained an opportunity to renew and improve itself in a manner that would contribute to its rapid growth in the years to come. Accordingly, it was primarily as a result of the headway made by the company in 1975 that Tekfen was able to take part in the 457 km long Yumurtalık-Kırıkkale Crude Oil Pipeline project in 1983 and the 890 km long second section of the Irak-Turkey Crude Oil Pipeline project in 1985 as direct contractor.

 

In addition to oil facilities, infrastructural construction also occupies a prominent place in Tekfen's process of development. The building of the Fahaheel Motorway in Kuwait, undertaken in cooperation with the American Sangamo Group, was a symbol of Tekfen's opening up to the world. The ensuing projects carried out in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Irak further opened the door to Tekfen's activities abroad and brought a new dimension to the company's targets. Beginning in the Middle East and with time adding new regions, this advancement contributed to Tekfen's current status as an international contractor capable of running simultaneous operations in different parts of the world.

 
New products for consumers
 

Aside from the activities in the field of contracting, one of the company's most significant industrial investments was the establishment of Mis Milk Co., Inc. (Mis Süt A.Ş.), in 1976 with the purpose of producing long-life milk and dairy products. Despite the economic difficulties that Turkey was going through at the time, Mis Süt moved into profit within a few years. Thanks to a rise in export opportunities from the 1980s onwards, Mis Süt capitalized on a significant growth trend and in later years achieved market leadership in its sector. The firm carried on its activities as part of Tekfen Holding until 2000, when it was sold to Nestlé.

The Tekfen Group's export activities began with Mis Süt and soon reached a considerable volume. This prepared the ground for the establishment of Tekfen Export Co., Inc. (Tekfen Dış Ticaret A.Ş.) in 1981, set up to market third party companies' products abroad. Within a short time, the company began operating in close to 50 different countries, representing more than 200 industrial enterprises from different sectors. Only 6 years after its foundation, the company achieved status as the biggest exporter in Turkey.

Towards new shores with Toros

1981 was a special year for Tekfen Holding, as it is the year when another of its major industrial ventures, Toros Agriculture and Trade Co., Inc. (Toros Tarım ve Ticaret A.Ş.) - as it is called today, became operational. Starting production in Ceyhan, within a short time Toros Fertilizer (Toros Gübre) emerged as a leading player in the chemical fertilizer market. The inclusion of Toros Fertilizer into the Tekfen Group represents an important milestone in Tekfen's history, not merely by virtue of incorporating a profitable business enterprise, but also by virtue of entering the agricultural industry, now one of the four core business lines of the group. With the addition of the Akgübre and Samsun fertilizer factories in addition to the factory in Ceyhan, the Toros Group has become the biggest manufacturer of chemical fertilizers in Turkey.

Tekfen's agro-industrial operations started with fertilizer production. In later years, as the organization evolved, new needs emerged and gave rise to several new formations within the company, the first of which is the Toros Terminal. Anticipating that the Toros Fertilizer factory would in time acquire strategic importance in terms of transportation in the Eastern Mediterranean, the factory was from the very beginning designed to provide other services aside from fertilizer production. Consequently, the plant's dock extending into the sea would eventually turn into a major loading/unloading area for fertilizers, as well as a variety of other products.

 

The oil storage tanks constructed on the factory site, in relation to the oil terminal services are an important source of income today. Due to the constant rise in demand for the services offered, the terminal expanded its capacity and currently does more business than İskenderun port, the largest port in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As another extension of its fertilizer operations, Toros purchased a bag factory in Adana in 1986. After 1990, significant investments were made in the fields of grain trade and the production of grafted seedlings. By the mid-2000s, Toros had become active in a broad area extending from fertilizer to vegetable seeds, and from seedlings to the grain and feed raw materials trade. In 2004, with the acquisition of the Agripark facilities in Adana in which agricultural research and product development projects are carried out, Toros' leading position in the agri-industrial sector was further consolidated.

 
 
A period of gigantic projects

In 1983 the construction of the 457 km long and 24-inch Yumurtalık-Kırıkkale Crude Oil Pipeline began. This project carries special importance both as Tekfen's first EPC project, and also in terms of testing the company's ability to carry out operations in the pipeline business independently. The construction of the pipeline was carried out in a rugged terrain and under very difficult conditions. As a result of needs arising during the construction, an engineering division was brought together within the scope of Tekfen Construction. With the aim of gathering the skills and knowledge accumulated in the field of consultancy and project control services under one roof, and also offering engineering and consultancy services to others, this division later attained status as an independent company. Thus, in 1984 Tekfen Engineering (Tekfen Mühendislik) emerged as one of Turkey's most competent engineering firms.

One of the most important projects to make its mark on Tekfen's history at the end of the 1980s was the Tarsus-Adana-Gaziantep (TAG) motorway. The construction of the motorway started in 1989, and with connection roads included, the total length exceeds 300 km. The project was a major turning point in the history of the company with the highest sum paid for one single job, and was in every manner a huge project on an international scale.

 

Aside from Tekfen's industrial constructions and oil-gas plants, the project brought about a significant increase in infrastructural and public structure constructions, and the company continued by carrying out several gigantic projects throughout the 1990s.

The satellite towns, İstanbul Sinanoba and Ataşehir, which are not within the traditional scope of Tekfen work, are first in rank among the projects undertaken in this period. These projects were followed by the construction of the 3.5 km long Şişli-Levent subway section which began in the early 1990s, and the construction of the 80,000-seat İstanbul Atatürk Olympic Stadium, begun in 1997. Furthermore, the Chernoreche Military Housing Project was carried out in Samara in Russia, undertaken by the HMB (Hallesche Mitteldeutsche Bau AG) construction company, which was purchased in 1993 after the reunion of West and East Germany. This project left deep traces in the company's history, not only in terms of the difficulties that arose from the disadvantageous natural conditions, but also in terms of being one of the biggest public projects carried out by Tekfen to that date.

With the emergence of a new and unexplored market after the disintegration of the Soviet Union by the end of 1991 and the new-found independence of the young Central Asian republics, Tekfen's construction projects abroad acquired a new dimension. The intensive efforts carried out by Tekfen associate Ali Nihat Gökyiğit as chairman of the Turkish-CIS Business Council within DEİK (Foreign Economic Relations Board), forged close relations between Tekfen and the countries in the region. A substantial business volume was generated as a result of these efforts, particularly in the Caspian region where oil investments are substantial. Established in partnership with Tekfen, the Papfen thread factory in Uzbekistan is one outcome of the close relations with the countries in the region.

 
New business areas

The difficulties encountered by Tekfen in terms of financing projects within their rapidly evolving work in the field of construction spurred the group to found an investment and financing bank. Thus, Tekfenbank came into existence in 1989.

In fact, the bank's foundation application was made as a deposit bank. However, the Undersecretariat of Treasury and Foreign Trade gave Tekfen Group the license of investment and finance banking with the rationale that there are enough deposit banks in the market. As a result, Tekfenbank operated with a single branch for long years.

 

Spain's third biggest bank Banesto purchased % 10 share of Tekfenbank in 1990 and this event made the bank more popular. Tekfenbank also has been a representative of slow but determined growth in the banking sector since its inception. For this reason, Tekfenbank did not incur any problems during the 1994 financial crisis. Furthermore, the bank was also able to turn the 2001 financial crisis, where several banks were obliged to shut down, into an opportunity and purchased Bank Express, a medium-scaled commercial bank. Thus, the dream of many years was finally realized, paving the way for Tekfenbank to become a deposit bank.

Achieving a crucial boom with the purchase of Bank Express, Tekfenbank increased its number of branches to 30 at the beginning of 2002. Tekfenbank's administration had developed two alternative strategies after its purchase of Bank Express: either going public and resuming with growth or uniting with a foreign partner. Meanwhile, foreign finance circles increased their interest in Turkey's banking sector after the mid-2000's, thereby making the second option more feasible.

As a matter of fact, negotiations that started with Eurobank EFG, Greece's second biggest bank, in May 2005 matured quickly and the two banks signed a partnership agreement on May 8, 2006. The agreement stipulated that 70% of Tekfenbank's shares would be transferred to Eurobank EFG. In the meantime, Tekfen Group continued to be a strategic partner with a share of 29.26%. The bank's name was change into Eurobank Tekfen as of January 11, 2008 following the fulfillment of legal procedures and the share transfer.

Eurobank Tekfen displayed a fast growth between 2006-2012 and raised the number of its branches to 60. Since then, Eurobank Tekfen has become a significant business partner especially for small and medium-sized enterprises in crucial commercial and industrial regions of Turkey. Turkey's exuberant and growing economy enabled the bank administration to look to the future with confidence.

However, Eurobank EFG decided to scale down in 2011 due to the deepening financial crisis in Greece and the bank decided to sell its shares in Eurobank Tekfen. After Eurobank EFG declared on April 9, 2012 that it is going to sell its shares to Kuwaiti Burgan Bank, Tekfen Group also announced that it is going to transfer its % 29,26 shares to the same bank. At the same time, both banks started operations for obtaining the approval and permission of all public enterprises to which the parties were liable. With the required permission granted by the Banking Supervision and Regulation Agency on December 6, Eurobank Tekfen and all its subsidiaries (EFG Securities, and EFG Leasing) were officially transferred to Burgan Bank as of December 21, 2012.

         

To meet the insurance needs of the Tekfen group companies, the insurance activities which started in 1981 within the Technical Service and Trade Co., Inc. were turned into Tekfen Insurance Brokerage Services Co., Inc. The enterprise grew rapidly and is today among the brokerage companies with the highest premiums.

Consumer patterns in Turkey went through significant changes during the 1980s and 1990s. The biggest cities in Turkey, and particularly İstanbul, witnessed the opening of a great number of shopping malls. Established by Tekfen in cooperation with the Akkök and İstikbal groups and opening its doors in 1993, Akmerkez retains a distinguished place among these shopping malls. Whether in terms of the architectural features, the number of visitors or the management of the building, Akmerkez has drawn attention also internationally, and has been deemed worthy of a great number of awards. Akmerkez was recognized as the best shopping mall in Europe in 1995, and in 1996 as the best shopping mall in the world.

Makro market was originally set up to make use of an impractical corner store within the Akmerkez shopping mall. With the 25 branches subsequently opened in later years, however, Makro has emerged as one of the premium supermarket chains in Turkey, and Tekfen has become a name to count with also in the retail sector. As a result of the Tekfen managers' idea to establish a DIY market and through a Turkish-German business partnership, Götzen opened in İstanbul in 1995 and was the first of its kind in Turkey. Belpri, established by a cooperation between Tekfen, Prisunic and the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, was similarly the first market to introduce Turkey to the notion of "hypermarkets". Tekfen's activities in the retail sector carried on with full speed throughout the 1990s. However, in 2000, Tekfen adopted a business strategy focusing on the core areas of activity, and therefore decided to sell these enterprises.

In the course of its prior involvement in satellite town projects, the Tekfen management found the opportunity to become more familiar with the housing and real estate sector. Within the scope of reorganization efforts undertaken in the year 2000, a decision was made to concentrate on real estate development projects, and the Tekfen Real Estate Development Group was established. Focusing on exclusive real estate and office projects targeting high-income groups and corporate customers, one of Tekfen Real Estate Group's first projects was Taksim Residences, built on the grounds of the old French Pasteur Hospital in Istanbul. Both in terms of the quality of the construction and the landscape planning, the project won acclaim and was met with keen interest in the market.

 

Another one of Tekfen's exclusive specialty real estate projects is Tekfen Tower. With its fiber optic communication infrastructure, sun control windows, 800 vehicle parking lot and state of the art air-conditioning system, Tekfen Tower is the most high-tech office building in Istanbul today. Tekfen Tower has received consistent praise from the business community and is also a commercial success. Constructed on the grounds of Tekfen's old light bulb factory in Levent, the management of the 26-floor building is handled by Tekfen Services.

 
Restructuring for the future

Towards the end of 1990s, Tekfen had made immense advances compared to a few years before both in terms of the diversity of its activities, its business volume and the number of employees, and therefore, this situation necessitated a restructuring process within the company. As part of this restructuring, the Tekfen companies were organized according to a new administration scheme and this organization was bound to a professional management. With more than 70 partners working in a variety of different sectors from contracting to milk production, and from retail to airplane administration, Tekfen's management had grown into a gigantic organization. With the restructuring carried out in 2000, these different branches were organized into five core business lines determining the company's subsequent course. These core business lines are the Contracting Group, the Agri-Industry Group, the Banking Group, the Real Estate Development Group and the Investment and Service Companies Group.

 

For the furtherance of its contributions to social and cultural activities, Tekfen set up the Tekfen Foundation in 1999. Supporting a variety of cultural and arts projects in Turkey, the Tekfen Foundation also awards unconditional scholarships to 180 successful students every year, and is among the supporters of the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA). Giving concerts in a variety of different places in Turkey and around the world as a leading cultural ambassador since 1992, the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra is also one of Tekfen's noteworthy contributions in the field of arts and culture.

 
         

Tekfen regards its 50th year anniversary in 2006 not as the end of an era, but as the beginning of a new one. Striving towards perfection in all its lines of businesses and acting on the basis of ethical values in all its activities, Tekfen is determined to move forward and deliver top quality work that we can be proud of in the future as it has done in the past. The values that Tekfen's three founders Feyyaz Berker, Ali Nihat Gökyiğit and Necati Akçağlılar passed on to the new management team will continue to light the way for the next 50 years, too, as the cornerstone of the Tekfen culture.

 

 

Terms of Use | Privacy Statement