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Turkish military’s pension fund thrives amid economic crisis

The Turkish military’s pension fund, OYAK, has embarked on a major expansion, taking advantage of business opportunities amidst the country’s economic crisis. But how long will Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s acquiescence last?
Turkish honour guards march during a changing of the guard ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in Ankara, Turkey, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC1E4FF90800

While many companies are scrambling to stay afloat amid Turkey’s economic crisis, the Turkish military’s pension fund, OYAK, is poised for a major acquisition in the fuel distribution sector, a move that reflects its growing economic might and influence in critical sectors. The fund, which entered talks to buy the fuel and autogas operations of Demiroren Holding in November, has agreed to pay about $450 million for the Turkish branch of Total Oil and M Oil, which are currently part of Demiroren, a financially strained conglomerate close to the government. Under the agreement, reported by the daily Haberturk last week, OYAK would pay some $360 million and $90 million respectively for Total Oil and M Oil, which are operating about 900 gas stations across the country.

OYAK’s economic operations have often come under fire under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has actively sought to undo the political clout of the Turkish military. Intriguingly, however, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refrained from undoing the fund’s economic autonomy, even in the aftermath of the botched coup attempt in July 2016, which saw the upending of various military institutions.

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