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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Abraaj Group acquires minority stake in Turkish online travel firm 

Purchase is third investment Abraaj has made through the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund

The acquisition is the third investment made through the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund, which was set up to target the emerging regions of Turkey. Richard Cummins/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis
The acquisition is the third investment made through the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund, which was set up to target the emerging regions of Turkey. Richard Cummins/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

The Abraaj Group, a Dubai-based private equity investor that manages around US$13.6 billion in assets, acquired a minority stake in Biletal İç ve Dış Ticaret A.Ş (Biletall), an online travel agent in Turkey, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition is the third investment made through the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund, which was set up to target the emerging regions of Turkey characterised by the so-called ‘Anatolian Tigers’ – prominent cities such as Gaziantep, Kayseri and Konya, which have the biggest number of firms among Turkey’s 500 biggest companies.

“The Turkish online travel market is forecast to grow at over 20 per cent per annum between now and 2026, and this projected growth offers significant opportunities for Biletall,” Selçuk Yorgancıoğlu, partner and head of Turkey and Central Asia at Abraaj Group, said in a statement on Thursday.

The Abraaj Group, which has stakes in companies including low-cost carrier Air Arabia and Spinneys supermarket chain , is ramping up investments in technology and telecoms in the Middle East and North Africa.

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The Anatolia Growth Capital Fund is co-financed by Turkey and the European Union, with further financial support from the Istanbul Venture Capital Initiative (iVCi) and The Abraaj Group.

Abraaj holds stakes in other e-commerce platforms across the region and India, including Turkish online retailer Hepsiburada, and Bigbasket in India.

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Biletall began its operations by selling bus tickets online and today sells tickets for around 170 intercity bus companies, more than 120 domestic and international airlines, domestic ferry and train services. It registered 42 per cent growth in ticket sales from 2016 to 2017 through both online and offline sales channels, Abraaj Group said.

“Biletall, with its undisputed leadership in online bus tickets and fast-growing presence in online flight, ferry and train tickets, is well-positioned to capture a significant upside within Turkey’s online travel and tourism sector in Turkey,” said Levent Yeşildağ, director and head of Abraaj’s Anatolia Growth Capital Fund.

On Wednesday, Abraaj said it purchased a “significant minority” stake in Tunisia’s state-owned telco Tunisie Telecom from Emirates International Telecommunications, the telecoms investment unit of Dubai Holding.