Astas Holding invests in prime real estate projects
Led by businessmen Vedat Asci, the family-owned conglomerate has interests in contracting and real estate development, tourism, foreign trade, textiles machinery, energy and education.
By Metin Demirsar
Istanbul (Dunya) – In 1978, 18-year old Vedat Asci, the son of a supermarket operator from Bafra, an agricultural town in the Black Sea province of Samsun, joined his older brother in Germany to continue his university education and start an international business.
"Germany’s economy was growing strong and there were job opportunities for young people," Mr. Asci, now 53, and chairman of Astas Holding, a large Istanbul-based, family-owned conglomerate employing 2,000 persons, reminisced in an interview. "While continuing my schooling, I wanted to enter business."
In 1980, he established Asci GmbH and became an international distributor of industrial sowing machines and other textiles machinery. Three years later, he founded Astas Endustri Tekstil Makineleri Sanayi and began importing the goods to Turkey, where the clothing and apparel and textile industries were taking off.
"You could say this was a turning point in my career," Mr. Asci said. "It (Astas) played a key role in the development of Turkey’s ready-wear industry, which had begun to compete in world markets." Astas, he said, installed cutting edge technology in thousands of Turkish ready-wear producers, fabrics makers and home textile companies, giving them a competitive edge over manufacturers in other countries.
Today, Astas distributes sowing machines and textile machinery, led by Juki of Japan, Assyt Bullmer, Maier, Meyer and Shonenberger of Germany, and Union Special of the U.S., in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the former Soviet Caucasus and Central Asia.
The group’s textile machinery business has 11 branches and employs 600 persons directly and 3,000 persons indirectly through retailers.
In 1998, Mr. Asci returned permanently to Turkey and he entered the real estate development business.
"My travels in the textile machinery business took me to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the U.S., and the skyscrapers, and modern technology buildings, residences and luxury hotels fascinated me," he remarked. "I had a dream to construct similar buildings in Turkey. I began to follow the needs of Istanbul in this field and started developing luxury real estate projects."
He noticed that real estate in Istanbul was standard and uniform.
"Whereas when trends are examined, individuals want to live in the cities near their work places and have sports and cultural activities in the same centers in live in buildings that are non-standardized," he commented.
Seeing this demand in Istanbul and other large cities of Turkey, Astaş Holding began developing residences for elite, upper income Turkish families and foreign businessmen with the services of luxury hotels in prime locations. It also began cooperating with famous brands, such as Kempinski, Armani and Mandarin Oriental.
"We at Astas Holding seek to be pioneers in the sector. We offer a specially designed, exclusive lifestyle in top locations, working with world brands," Mr. Asci said.
In 2004, his holding company acquired prime properties in Istanbul’s Mecidiyekoy business district, and built the Kempinski Residences Astoria, an unusual triangular 5-storey main building with a shopping center, and two towers of 27-floor each of luxury residences and offices.
In 2008, it developed the Bellevue Residences, a 22-storey tower with more than 65 luxury residences at the entrance of Etiler, a high class neighborhood north of the city. The residence is also managed by Kempinski.
And last year, it launched the Maçka Residences, near the city center. The interior of the residences, also managed by Kempinski, is designed by Armani / Casa.
Now, it is developing the Mandarin Oriental near the Aegean resort boom town Bodrum. Located in Paradise Bay, the Mandarin Oriental will have an 82-room, 20 suite hotel, in association with 98 private villas of 560 square meters to 760 square meters and 116 apartments from 204 asquare meters to 369 meters.
Last year, it acquired the Kurucesme Arena property along the Bosphorus in Istanbul and plans to build a luxury hotel for the international jet set.
Energy, education investments
Astas Holding, which today employs 2,000 persons, is also planning to carry out investments in renewable energy projects that don’t harm the environment..
"In terms of renewable energy resources, Turkey has a wealth of resources and potential, particularly in solar energy, and we plan to invest in these fields," Mr. Asci said.
He also said the group also plans to build a tourism faculty in the Black Sea area of Turkey.