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Capital Markets

Oyak marches to the profit drumbeat

Created in 1961 to supplement the pensions of military personnel, Turkish pension fund Oyak has traditionally delivered returns by holding majority stakes in Turkish companies. Profiting from the economy’s strong growth rates, the addition of a fixed-income portfolio has enabled the fund to ride the volatility of the market. Florian Neuhof reports.

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To most fund managers, comparing a pension fund with a conglomerate would seem absurd. Yet Serif Coskun Ulusoy, president and CEO of Oyak (Ordu Yardimlasma Kurumu/Armed Forces Pension Fund), freely compares the pension fund’s performance with those of the two largest conglomerates in Turkey, Koc and Sabanci Holding. The reason is simple: more than half of the fund’s assets lie in shares in over 60 Turkish companies. What is more, almost all of the companies involved are majority owned by Oyak.

It might be an unusual model for generating returns but it has served Oyak well so far. It is Turkey’s largest private pension fund, with more than 277,000 members, and the only one of the supplementary funds established in 1961 that still exists. The fund has been able to deliver an annual return on assets that is consistently higher than consumer price inflation, as much as four times higher in 2004 and 3.5 times in 2005.

Being a pension fund, its investment objectives differ from those of the conglomerates. Koc and Sabanci Holding are clearly bigger entities in terms of market share.

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