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Sabanci redefines the family business

Güler Sabanci, who chairs Turkey’s Sabanci Group, talks to Peter Koh about foreign partnerships, international expansion, the group’s strategic direction and the difficulties of running a family business.

Güler Sabanci, chair of Sabanci Güler Sabanci: banking is our core business and will remain so

THE SABANCI GROUP is one of Turkey’s leading conglomerates, with revenues in 2005 of $10.6 billion and assets of $46 billion in 2005. The group owns Akbank, the second-largest private-sector bank in Turkey. This has become the subject of much attention from foreign banks, most recently Citigroup, that are looking for a way into the fast-growing Turkish market. Güler Sabanci, the 17th most powerful woman in the business world according to Fortune magazine, took the chair of the family-owned group two years ago after the death of her uncle, the nationally popular Sakip Sabanci, who had led the group since the death of its founder, Haci Ömer Sabanci, in 1966. She is the only woman in Turkey to run a big business conglomerate.

Although a granddaughter of Haci Ömer, she inherited only a minor stake in the group when her father died; he was the only one of Haci Ömer’s six sons to receive a less-than-equal share of the business.

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