Esteemed Shareholders, Business Partners, and Colleagues,
2018 was a year marked by growing volatilities and power struggles around the globe. The outcomes of this rising tension included Brexit in the U.K., the trade war between the U.S. and China, and Russia’s blocking of the straits on the Sea of Azov, the effects of which were felt around the globe. As a consequence of this environment of crisis, Europe witnessed a rising tide of racism, which concerned many of us. Meanwhile, the Middle East remains a hotbed of conflict. The trade war, in particular, is expected to hamper global economic growth in 2019, and global uncertainties are expected to persist in the coming year.
Naturally, the Turkish economy was adversely affected by both of these developments, and exchange rate fluctuations resulted from Fed’s interest rate decisions. After a 7.4% growth in the first quarter, Turkey’s growth rate declined to 1.6%.
We understand that 2019 will be a challenging year. During these difficult times in both Turkey and the global community, we will continue to focus on controlled growth. We believe and trust in our country’s ability to overcome these challenges, as it has done so many times in the past.
In 2018, Doğan Group focused on efficiency, and ceased operation in business areas that failed to provide the projected level of added value. For instance, we strategically sold our media assets.
Our total consolidated assets grew 3.5% during 2017 and reached TRY 10,950 million in 2018 In 2018, Doğan Şirketler Grubu Holding A.Ş. received an AA- (Trk) rating with a “Positive” outlook from JCR Eurasia on the Long-Term National Scale, affirming its investable grade both at national and international levels.
In late 2018, Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks, became an investment partner in Hürriyet Emlak, a Doğan Group company. This end-of-year development involving Hürriyet Emlak—which has introduced many novel products to the Turkish market that increase the efficiency of real estate agencies as well as individuals—once again demonstrated the great opportunities to be found in Turkey’s various sectors. We look forward to more such news in 2019
Doğan Group operates in a wide range of fields, including energy, fuel oil retail, finance, online entertainment, industry, automotive, tourism and real estate. We remain confident that our companies hold effective positions in their respective sectors, and that good opportunities await us. In 2019, we focused on organic and inorganic growth as well as increasing productivity in our current lines of business. Also, in 2019, we sought and evaluated the right investment and acquisition opportunities across the various sectors in which we operate.
At Doğan Group, our values have always served both as our pillar and our guiding star. We believe that a company’s values and culture are even more important than its strategy. For the last 60 years, we have worked with passion, always learning and growing while maintaining our unwavering commitment to transparency, innovation and performance, and most importantly, trusting in each other as we work to best serve our community, country and humanity at large. Along with our stakeholders, we will continue to put values first in the new year.
Giving back to society is one of Doğan Group’s key commitments. Accordingly, we pursued our social responsibility projects at full pace throughout 2018 Our social initiatives include the Strong Girls, Strong Tomorrow project, an effort to empower girls through education on behalf of the Aydın Doğan Foundation, which was established in 1996 The Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition, an international platform that has thrived for 35 years, is often referred to as the “Oscars of Cartooning,” and the Aydın Doğan Awards, which recognize lasting contribution to the fields of science, culture and the arts, have been given annually for the past 22 years.
We recognize increasing polarization as one of the leading issues facing humanity today, even in Turkey. We believe that shared values act as the antidote to polarization, and strive to place them at the center of our lives through our Shared Values Initiative. This project, launched back in 2016, reached over 10,000 people in 2018 The game we introduced, Stone of Values, helps players understand and embrace essential humanitarian values and reveals the ways in which we not as different from one another as we think; the game has thus far reached over 5,000 people. We also continued to host our competition and value-meeting events. We intend to continue encouraging a sense of goodwill and trust across contemporary society through our Shared Values Initiative in 2019.
One of the most important questions looming over the international community is whether we will meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 These goals, while crucial for sustainable living, also represent great business opportunities. We are now in a time when companies that embrace sustainability are poised to gain prominence.
At Doğan Holding, we have placed “sustainability” at the core of all of our growth and business plans. We understand that reaching these goals, which are key to saving the world from the climate crises, poverty and inequality, is impossible if businesses do not play their part.
These goals will continue to help shape our core growth strategies and supply chains in the coming years as well.
As we have persistently done over the last 60 years, will continue to create value for our country and our people.
Y. Begümhan DOĞAN FARALYALI