Turkey’s Wealth Fund director: "We are dealing with something we do not know"

The director of Turkey's Wealth Fund claimed that Turkey would achieve world standards through the Fund, after stating that they did not know what exactly they were dealing with
Tuesday, 26 March 2019 13:19

Zafer Sönmez, the director of Wealth Fund, which has enabled the privatization of large-scale state enterprises, stated that the Fund would enhance the international recognition of Turkey by 2023.

He further stated that “the Fund had been the most exciting financial tool since the establishment of the Republic in 1923”.

“Although we are dealing with something that nobody could define, nobody exactly has knowledge of … through the Fund we will achieve the world standards”, the director added.


‘The Wealth Fund is not a bank; it does not provide credit. It is not a central bank; it does not determine monetary policy. It is not treasury; it does not provide credit to the state. Its budget is not provided through one’s taxes. It is not a privatization administration. All these institutions have different competencies and visions and missions. All of them are distinguished institutions. For this reason, [the Fund] seeks capital. It seeks to enable Turkish companies to achieve key global and regional players,’ Sönmez said.

Sönmez also stated that they established joint investigation platforms with institutions similar to the Fund: ‘A very few institutions in Europe, America, and Asia that do not know about the Wealth Fund. All the main institutions know us and they will know us better. [The Fund] will reinstate the long-term trust for Turkey. The 2023 vision of the Fund is the international recognition of Turkey’.


The limitations regarding the selling and the buying of shares of large-scale state enterprises were abolished on 12 March 2019 with a presidential decree.

The total assets of the Wealth Fund are estimated at around $200 billion. It was questioned whether the new regulation would allow the selling of 35% of the total assets through bonds. Nevertheless, the new regulation was presented as ‘an only technical regulation’.

The $50 billion-worth wealth fund (TVF) was set up in 2016 by the AKP government. The government has transferred to the TVF stakes worth billions of dollars of state assets, including stakes in key companies including flag carrier Turkish Airlines, major banks, fixed-line operator Turk Telekom, Ziraat Bank, oil and natural gas distributor BOTAŞ, postal service PTT, satellite operator Türksat, mining company Eti Maden, tea enterprise Çay-Kur. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in September 2018 appointed himself the chairman of Turkey's sovereign wealth fund and named his son-in-law and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak as deputy chairman.

The Chamber of Electrical Engineers (EMO) considered the Fund as ‘the seizure of public assets by the AKP’. The Fund arguably serve as a channel to transfer wealth to various capital fractions. Indeed, Erdoğan declared that the Fund would give significant support to the contractors in their projects.