Turkey’s food giant denies being targeted in gov’t post-coup crackdown

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Turkey’s largest food producer, Yıldız Holding, denied media reports that the group was caught up in the government’s widening post-coup crackdown against the Gülen movement.

But the conglomerate has failed to escape a major slide in its shares on the stock exchange.

An article in the pro-government Sabah newspaper claimed on Friday that an unnamed company of a popular group has links to Kaynak Holding, another giant that the Turkish government previously seized as part of its war against the Gülen movement, a civic initiative based in Turkey. On Saturday the online news platform OdaTV said the group in question was Yıldız Holding.

In a written statement on Monday Yıldız dismissed the claims, saying that it has nothing to do with the issue reported in the OdaTV article.

Shares of three Yıldız companies including the holding’s flagship Ülker Bisküvi plummeted more than 12 percent on the first business day of the week.

Meanwhile, owner Murat Ülker tweeted in a bid to reassure investors that the article was ill intentioned.

 

“They are making a fuss about nothing. … Our operation is clean, and we will continue working,” he said.

 

Apart from its operations in Turkey, Yıldız also owns Belgian-based chocolatier Godiva, the UK’s United Biscuits and the US-based DeMet’s Candy Company.

 

Since the Turkish government pinned the blame for a July 15 coup attempt on the Gülen movement, a huge blow has been dealt to the private sector. A total of 527 companies have been transferred to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), while the assets of dozens of businessmen have been confiscated since then.

 

Minister for Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Özhaseki said on Sept. 1 that some TL 12 billion (about $4 billion) in property had been transferred to the Treasury as part of an investigation into the movement.

 

The companies are alleged to be connected to the Gülen movement, with the government coining the term “FETÖ” to designate the movement as a terrorist organization despite the lack of any court verdict to that effect.

 

The total turnover of companies seized by the government has been estimated at over $50 billion, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Oct. 15.

 

Among the large conglomerates that have been confiscated by the TMSF are Koza-İpek Holding, Boydak Holding, Dumankaya Holding, Kaynak Holding and Naksan Holding.

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