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The reason for our headline is the Tepe-Akfen-Souter-Sera joint venture group to gain the tender, with $861 million, for the privatisation of Istanbul Sea Buses Industry and Trade (İDO) with a hundred per cent of its shares, held on April 8. Despite the archaic condition of the maritime sector in our country – a peninsula with straits - it is rather exciting to see that TAV, one of the largest groups in aviation industry, shows such an interest in this tender.

As the source for the aviation regulations is based on the marines, and operating principles are related to the occupancy rates, one should believe that TAV would have the expertise to achieve success in this project. Of course the proportion of the finances for this investment is crucial. The competitors for both the sea buses and the ferries will be multiplying very soon. Likewise, the Gulf Bridge to link Istanbul and Izmir will generate an ambitious competition. It is interesting that among the other participants of the tender only Stena, the Swedish partner company of Deniz Tourism Investments Inc. (
Koç Group), has its roots in ferry administration. Frankly I had very little faith in the chances of this company when I first came across the list of participants, mainly because the common tendency of all Koç Group companies is to follow a logic that seeks maximum gain with minimal risk. Such an approach was unfortunately only appropriate at the time of late Vehbi Koç. Now is the time for daring entrepreneurship that works with measured risk taking. In fact in some cases, one may even need to undertake a percentage of loss with some projects. This is exactly why the businessmen such as Hamdi Akın and Sani Şener have been in a huge ascent over the last decade, much more than the huge groups such as Koç and Sabancı.  

The bus transportation company Souter Group, owned by the Scottish Brian Souter, is the partner of Tepe-Akfen-Sera. Is it not fascinating that the ‘mariners’ and ‘landers’ set up a joint consortium to step into aviation?

The branding, recognition and success maintenance of a company for long years are surely related to many parameters. The success story of TAV provides one of the most important examples on behalf of development and vision when it shifted its focus from construction to aviation and became the winner of the Ataturk Airport tender in 1997 despite everyone’s astonishment. TAV did not get where it is now easily. In my opinion, behind its success lie the harmonisation of the entrepreneurship and incredible intuition for projects of
Hamdi Akın, and the remarkable emotional intelligence of Sani Şener and his talent for team management.

Sani Şener underlines that the most important factor of their success is ‘the blend of the institutional with the situational, magnitude with agility, and freedom with discipline’. It is always easy to say than to do. They seem to have managed it however through advances both at home and abroad – a situation that could only be created by a wise, farsighted and intelligent manager such as Sani Şener who has maintained a perfect balance between the partner companies and effectively passed on the messages to the lower cadres.

Despite the discouraging developments of the past few months in the Middle East, TAV, followed by its success with
İDO, is now heading for the international tender for Medina. A rival in the bidding consortia is another new and successful aviator, Limak.

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