Not long ago the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) approached PEI with an unusual request. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, would visit New York for the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations in September and while there also wanted to meet with private equity investors to tell them about the rich opportunities currently on offer in his country. Could we help with the guest list, and maybe do a bit of moderating on the day?
Of course we could. We worked the phones and spread the word, and some of the largest alternative investment groups were awaiting the prime minister’s arrival on the big day at the Plaza on Fifth Avenue.
Among a packed audience of Turkish business leaders and politicians were the likes of David Blitzer of Blackstone, Rick Shifter of TPG, Richard Carey of Permira, Chris Flowers of JC Flowers, Alex Pellegrini of Apax, Baran Tekkora of Riverstone, Ken Mehlman of KKR and Gordon Goldstein of Silver Lake.
The message they heard was loud and clear. Turkey, one of the fastest growing economies in the world today, would like to grow even faster, and those present were called upon to help. With limited private equity activity in the country to date, Erdogan’s government was keen to bring about an increase in entrepreneurial funding for the country’s high-potential sectors.
Any regulatory restrictions, asked one GP with a penchant for financial services investment? If you want to invest in a bank you’ll need to bring some capital, came the reply. Other than that, none – please do come in.
It’s not every day that politicians tell private equity how welcome it is. And when the invitation comes from a country with an economy as vibrant as Turkey’s at the moment, it’s a call well worth heading.