Out of the ruins
Vestel's success is a personal victory for Ahmet Zorlu, a 52-year-old primary school graduate who made a fortune in textiles. Zorlu reportedly acquired 82% of Vestel's shares for less than $10 million in 1994 from Polly Peck's administrators.
Vestel was established in 1983 as part of Polly Peck International plc (PPI) which was run by Cypriot tycoon Asil Nadir. The company played a major role in the development of the Turkish electronics industry. In 1990 18% of the company's shares were floated on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. Soon afterwards Polly Peck crashed and was placed under the custodianship of Coopers & Lybrand with a mandate to dispose of PPI assets and pay back the company's creditors and shareholders. The administrators' original plan was to dispose of PPI subsidiaries, keeping three core companies, of which Vestel was to have been one. The plan did not work out and the administrators put Vestel on the market.
In January 1991 the Cukurova group, one of Turkey's largest private conglomerates, offered to pay $80 million for 51% of the company, a former company director told Euromoney. The administrators did not sell then because it was not timely, the director says. Over the years offers came to the administrators from other large Turkish groups like Koç, Sabanci, Dogus and Bayraktar, but no sale was made.