In September, some suprising news came out that KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co) was attempting a takeover bid for the Turkish UN Ro-Ro shipping firm. Well, news has just been released coutesy of Reuters (KKR buys 98 pct of Turk shipper in $1.28 bln deal) and Forbes (KKR Ro-Ros To Turkey) that the deal has gone through. KKR will purchase a 97.6% stake worth 882.2 million euros ($1.2 billion) from the consortium of international shippers. While this may pose as a landmark deal for private equity enthusiasts such as myself, not to mention the largest private equity deal ever to be done in Turkey, KKR first appeared to have bitten off more than they could chew. In September, there was negative speculation both from Chairman Saffet Ulusoy (who said that he would never sell) and the Turkish Armed forces as to the selling-off of national security interests.
UN Ro-Ro, a roll-on/roll-off shipping company, owns 9 ships and was founded in 1993 during the Yugoslav-Balkans War - a war that closed overland shipping routes connecting Turkey and Europe. The ships sail daily from the port of Ambarli-Pendik, Turkey carrying lorries and container vehicles filled with Turkish goods to Trieste, Italy.
Speaking on the deal, KKR's John Pfeffer commented, "We believe in the growth of trade between Turkey and Europe and U.N Ro-Ro’s important role in that development. We are very interested in the Turkish market and believe that private equity can play a helpful role by investing to support the growth of businesses. This is our first investment here, and we hope to find other investment opportunities in the future."
On one hand, this type of deal with a large private equity player coming to Turkey was inevitable. The economy is still holding on, the elections are over, and Southeastern Europe funds have been circling around Turkey for quite some time now. The Forbes article makes an interesting comment concerning the increased desire for private equity deals in emerging markets due the "lack of appetite for credit to finance more expensive acquisitions in developed markets."
On the other hand, Golden tier US funds are currently on the fence and gaming to set up new offices or affiliates in Europe. For example, DFJ has bought a stake in European Esprit Capital Partners and has also just launched a VC fund in Russia. In addition, AIG has made motions and new hires to launch back into Turkey (more on that later). It seems even with the bubble bursting 7 years ago in the US, and with different cultures between US and European private equity deals, the US funds are willing to give it another go. It should be interesting to see if Europeans are still open to the idea and which firm will be next.
But for Turkey, this large scale private equity deal should send signals to other large international players and make them take note. The advantage will remain with those firms (both legal and consulting) on the ground in Turkey that have the resources to spot and get the deals, not to mention the large Turkish firms with buyout potential.
Technorati Tags: KKR, DFJ, Private Equity, Investments, Deal Flow, Turkey, UN Ro-Ro, Takeovers, Shipping, Acquisitions
Labels: Buyout, deal flow, DFJ, Emerging Markets, KKR, Private Equity, Shipping, Takeovers