Business Interests: Holdings, Investments and Public Tenders
Among the shareholders of companies that own the top 40 media outlets, most are businesspeople. The six conglomerates they own (Doğuş, Demirören, Albayrak, Ciner, Kalyon, İhlas Groups) operate in sectors such as construction, energy, mining, tourism, telecommunications.
The groups (Doğuş, Demirören, Ciner, Albayrak, Kalyon and İhlas companies) that own other major businesses publish more than half of the top 40 media outlets compiled by MOM according to their audience shares.
Among the top 40 media outlets, they own 7 newspapers: Hürriyet, Posta and Milliyet belong to Demirören Group (3), Sabah and Takvim belong to Kalyon (2), Yeni Şafak is owned by Albayrak (1), Türkiye is owned by İhlas Group (1).
Among the top 10 TVs, they own 5 TVs: ATV and A Haber belong to Kalyon Group (2), Ciner (1) owns Show TV, Demirören (1) owns Kanal D, Doğuş (1) owns Star TV.
Regarding the radios, 5 radios belong to these groups: Kral FM and NTV Radio belong to Doğuş (2); Radyo D belongs to Demirören (1), A Haber Radyo belongs to Turkuvaz Media (Kalyon Group) (1), Ciner (1) owns Habertürk.
5 of the digital news portals on the top 10 belong to the Demirören (2) (hurriyet.com.tr, milliyet.com.tr), Ciner (1) (haberturk.com.tr), Kalyon (2) (sabah.com.tr, takvim.com.tr).
Some of them, such as the Albayrak Group, Kalyon Group, İhlas Group and Doğuş Group, have won major public tenders in the past few years, ranging from the third airport of İstanbul to metro construction and urban redevelopment projects on a neighborhood scale.
Türk Medya Group, whose owner Zeki Yeşildağ is in close relations with the ruling AKP and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is active only in the media sector. The group’s Akşam newspaper is included in the MOM 2020 updates.
Demirören Group: Erdoğan Demirören, who entered the media sector by buying Milliyet in 2011, was formerly a businessperson working in the fuel oil sector. All shares of the Group belong to the Demirören Family, who has close ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and who openly supports the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The Demirören family is active in many sectors such as media, energy, mining and construction.
Erdoğan Demirören was the majority shareholder of the conglomerate 'Demirören Holding A.Ş.' until he died on June 8, 2018. Yıldırım Demirören was elected as the board chairperson of Demirören Holding after his father died.
Fikret Tayfun Demirören, Yıldırım Demirören and Meltem Oktay now control the group, which owns businesses in media, manufacturing, shopping malls, real estate, port management, construction, education and tourism sectors. The group bought a building that was owned by the General Directorate of Foundations, turning it into “Demirören Shopping Mall” on İstanbul's Istiklal Avenue. The construction of the mall caused a lot of controversy, due to claims that it was not built with respect to the former building plan. Yıldırım Demirören, as the Turkish Football Federation President, is in the commission which handles the tenders for the broadcast of the Turkish National Football League, "Süper Lig". Recently, the Süper Lig and 1st League broadcast rights were sold to Digiturk, which is owned by the Qatari company beIN Sports. In 2003, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Fikret Tayfun Demirören's wedding witness. Erdoğan Demirören and his two sons (Yıldırım and Fikret Tayfun) attended President Erdoğan's daughter's wedding in May 2016.
Also, Yelda Demirören, the daughter of Yıldırım Demirören, and Haluk Kalyoncu (the son of Hasan Kalyoncu, the founder of the Kalyon Group) got married on April 13, 2019 and President Erdoğan and his wife Emine Erdoğan were the marriage witnesses.
On March 22, 2018, Demirören group purchased all media assets of Doğan Group for 916 million US dollars. Demirören Group now owns 3 newspapers (Hürriyet, Posta and Fanatik dailies), two TV channels (Kanal D and CNNTURK), and one news agency (DHA). Demirören Group also had one distribution company (YAYSAT) until it was closed in 2018.
It is known that the amount of the loan provided by the state bank Ziraat Bank in the sale of Doğan Media Group to Demirören Group was 675 million US dollars and it was a 2-year non-refundable loan with a maturity of 10 years.
Doğuş Group is a family business owned by the Şahenk family, which owns 99.3 percent of Doğuş Yayın Grubu (Doğuş Media Group DMG). The Group was founded in 1951 by Ayhan Şahenk, primarily active in construction, subsequently in finance, tourism and automotive industry. The group was also active in banking (Garanti Bank) until it sold its last 9.95 percent stakes to the Spanish lender BBVA Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria in February 2017.
Doğuş Media Group was founded with a capital of 2 million 870 thousand Turkish Liras in 1999 with the acquisition of NTV; it works with such global corporations as National Geographic and Condé Nast, and it continues to make major advances in the media sector. The group has won many tenders, including metro constructions in İstanbul and Galataport, the Giresun Aslancık Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant, which is run with the group's partnership with Doğan Group.
The Group has allegedly billions of liras of unpaid liabilities to the public.
There are 4 television channels, 7 online brands, 4 radio stations, 3 licensed monthly magazines and reference books under the media group.
The media companies 'Ciner Yayın Holding' and 'Ciner Medya Yatırımları' (Ciner Media Investments) are owned entirely by Turgay Ciner. He entered the media business when he bought Habertürk daily in 2009. In 2013, he extended his media enterprise by acquiring Show TV from the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund of Turkey (TMSF), which had seized it from the Çukurova Group. The group owns three TV channels and a newspaper. Its active companies include Ciner Energy and Mining Group, Ciner Media Group and Ciner Trade, Industry and Service Group. The group is in partnership with the state institution Eti Maden İşletmeleri in its Eti Soda business with a 74-percent share. The group has won the tenders for a 500 MW thermal plant in Konya and the Şırnak-Silopi Thermal Plants. The only offer in the tender for the planned nuclear plant in Mersin-Akkuyu came from the Ciner Group. The group is operating the Madenköy copper mine in Siirt’s Şilvan, where 16 people lost their lives under the debris of the collapsed cave. He is also the owner of Kasımpaşa Sports Club, which has a stadium named after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ciner Media Group explained that it decided to end the print edition of Habertürk due to financial issues. The final edition of the newspaper was published on July 6, 2018. Habertürk daily continues to be published via haberturk.com.
There are some news reports claiming that Ciner Group has started negotiations to sell their company, We Soda Limited, the world's largest soda ash producer, which it bought in 2015, for 5 billion dollars (approximately 44 billion liras).
In some news published in 2021, it was pointed out that Turgay Ciner moved his investments to Great Britain, and it was claimed that Ciner wants to withdraw completely from media investments.
Kalyon Group operates in media (newspapers, TV, radio and Internet news portals), news agency, magazine publishing, construction, energy and infrastructure sectors. Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu founded Zirve Holding in September 2013 to purchase the ATV-Sabah outlets from the Turkuvaz Group. Zirve Holding owns five newspapers, four TVs, 15 magazines, three Internet outlets and six radios. It has taken major public tenders in recent years, such as the construction of the third airport of İstanbul, the Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey subway line, the pedestrianization project of Taksim, the Bakırköy courthouse construction, metrobus line extension, Turkey-Cyprus drinking water pipeline construction, Başakşehir stadium and the Çanakkale-Ayancık road construction. President Erdoğan was a marriage witness during the wedding of Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu in 2004.
Haluk Kalyoncu (the son of Hasan Kalyoncu, the founder of the Kalyon Group) and Yelda Demirören (the daughter of Yıldırım Demirören, the Chair of the Board of Directors of Demirören Holding) got married on April 13, 2019. President Erdoğan and his wife Emine Erdoğan were the marriage witnesses.
Kalyon Construction is one of the companies getting the highest numbers of tenders from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. In the 9-year period of 2010-2018, the amount of money paid by the Municipality to the company was nearly 6 billion 700 million TRY. Under the name of water pipeline and drinking water tunnel construction, Kalyon Construction company was given three separate tenders by the İSKİ for 1 billion 507 million TRY in 2010, 2015 and 2018.
Azerbaijan is known to have signed agreements with Turkey following the war that it declared on Armeni̇a in September 2020 and it is alleged that Kalyon Group, known for its close ties with the government, is among the companies that signed these agreements.
In 2017, Zeki Yeşildağ purchased “Es Yayıncılık” and its all media assets including three TV channels, one newspaper, and their connected websites as well as two radio stations owned by Ethem Sancak. The firm's capital is now 19 million 40 thousand Turkish Liras. According to the Trade Registry Gazette published on October 30, 2017, Zeki Yeşildağ is the only owner of the company. In addition to his investments in media sector, according to the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce, he is a partner of Burak Turizm Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi and member of the board of directors at Kased Enerji Anonim Şirketi.
The media outlets of Es Yayıncılık were previously following the rhetoric of and political line of the ruling AKP. The media group, for example, stated that they were one of the cornerstones of the "New Turkey", a rhetoric used by Erdoğan to define the vision of a new country with immense power and democracy. The sale did not change its stance towards the government.
The brother of Zeki Yeşildağ, Hasan Yeşildağ is known with his close ties with Erdoğan. Based on the book, "Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Bir Liderin Doğuşu" by Hüseyin Besli, AKP's 22nd term member of the parliament, Hasan Yeşildağ is said to have committed a crime on purpose, just to be jailed for four months in order to protect Erdoğan in prison.
In December 2019, Güneş and Star newspapers belonging to TürkMedya group were closed. Güneş newspaper is published as a supplement to the Akşam newspaper, which belongs to the same group. Akşam newspaper is in the list of top ten newspapers in 2020.
Six brothers of the Albayrak family (Brothers Ahmet, Nuri, Bayram, Kazım, Muzaffer and Mustafa Albayrak) are shareholders of Albayrak Yayın Holding, which entered business in the construction sector in 1952. In 1997, the group bought Yeni Şafak newspaper. They now own seven magazines and two TV channels as well. The group is active in media (newspaper, TV, Internet news portal), magazine publishing, construction, advertising, distribution, agricultural vehicles, recycling machinery, port management, paper products, textile, information technologies, industry, waste management and metering systems sectors.
The group has taken dozens of public tenders, especially from municipalities, since the mid 90s. Tümosan, a vehicle company owned by the group, took a 190 million Euro tender to construct tanks for the Ministry of National Defence in 2015. The group is conducting the İstanbul subway line, Fatih Parking Garage, İstanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Establishments (İETT) Engine Renewal Factory, İETT Ayazağa Garage, prefabric hospital constructions in five different cities and Lahore metrobus infrastructure projects. The group has also won the tenders for "Altay" tank production from the Ministry of Defense, speed train production, Turkey's first aircraft tow tractor production from the Air Forces. Meanwhile, the group is also handling the construction of Trabzon and Mogadishu ports; waste collection activities in İstanbul, Ankara, Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep and Kocaeli; as well as the meter readings of İstanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ), Turkish Electricity Distribution Corporation (TEDAŞ), İstanbul Gas Distribution Company. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Nuri Albayrak's daughter's wedding witness in 2002 and attended his son's engagement ceremony in 2012.
When Ekrem İmamoğlu came into office as the İstanbul Metropolitan Mayor after the June 2019 İstanbul repeat local election, the extravagant use of vehicles caused a controversy and redundant vehicles were put on display in Yenikapı. These vehicles are known to belong to the Platform Turizm Taşımacılık company, which is headed by Adem Altunsoy, the son-in-law of Nuri Albayrak. The same company also won the tender for personnel vehicles in 2020.
İhlas Holding was founded in 1970 with the establishment of Türkiye newspaper. Today, it owns one newspaper, two TVs, one news agency and Internet websites. Apart from all four types of media, it also operates in magazine publishing, publishing, communication, retail, industry, real estate, education and healthcare sectors. The group owns 25 companies across the country. The holding's shares began trading on Borsa Istanbul in 2010. The group won a public tender in 2013 for the construction of 4,500 units as part of a controversial redevelopment project in İstanbul's Gaziosmanpaşa district; for the wireless wide area network and secure Internet connection of İstanbul's Bağcılar district; for the poly-metal mines in Salihli and Bayındır; as well as Elbistan lignite mine and thermal power plant.
According to the 2021 first quarterly operating report of the group, İhlas Group owns 23.96 percent of the İhlas Yayın Holding’s shares. 78.79 percent of İhlas Group’s shares are open to the public.