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Oyak: Army advances on the investment front

Oyak, the armed forces pension fund, is one of Turkey's largest conglomerates and has joint ventures in multinationals such as Renault, Axa, Elf and Goodyear. But most people do not know of its military origins. Now, Oyak seeks to come into the open, emerging among the top five companies in Turkey.

One of the best-kept secrets of the Turkish army is that it controls one of the country's largest conglomerates. Oyak, the armed forces pension fund, operates as a holding company for investments in 26 companies, including joint ventures with such multinationals as Renault, Axa, Elf and Goodyear. Many Oyak ventures are household names in Turkey but even locally few people know that they are part of the military's commercial empire. Oyak is commemorating its 40th year but it still does not publish accounts. But it is committed to embracing modernity. It is gradually coming into the open and has plans for a major overhaul that aims to place it among the top five companies in Turkey.

"We have nothing to hide," says Coskun Ulusoy, a 50-year-old American-educated ex-Citibanker named as chief executive officer and president just over a year ago to bring about this transformation. "We are like any other private company and we intend to act like any other private company," he says.

Oyak, an acronym for the fund's Turkish name, is already a powerful player. According to the Istanbul Industry Chamber's list of Turkey's largest 500 companies, Oyak Renault, in which the Fund has a 50% stake, was Turkey's largest and most profitable company last year.

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