Edelman retrenches in Turkey amid 'unbelievably complicated' geopolitical climate

Edelman will pull out of its wholly owned operation in Turkey, PRWeek has learned, with its Europe chief citing the "unbelievably complicated" geopolitical situation in the country.

Istanbul: Edelman Turkey's base (Credit: Moyan Brenn via Flickr)
Istanbul: Edelman Turkey's base (Credit: Moyan Brenn via Flickr)

Edelman – which yesterday announced a 7.2 per cent rise in 2015 global revenue – will move to what it calls an "affiliate plus" model in Turkey. Serra Turk Buyukfirat, general manager of the office, will become the majority shareholder, with Edelman retaining a minority stake.

The Turkish business, which employs 18 people and generates annual revenue of around $1.3m (£0.93m) across 20 clients, will continue to service the same clients and maintain the same team.

In echoes of Edelman’s decision to withdraw from Russia in 2015, the agency will have right of first refusal to buy back the business in the future if it wishes to do so.

Edelman's Europe boss Michael Stewart told PRWeek: "The geopolitical context in that part of that world has gotten unbelievably complicated on multiple levels.

"It is at the forefront of the migration crisis out of Syria, it has a semi-hot conflict with Russia, you’ve got a head of the country who’s having some pretty Draconian moves on freedom of the press. We’ve decided it’s best for us at this point in time to have an affiliate relationship there."

Stewart said the Turkish business had been "tremendously successful in building its own clientele", adding: "All the network businesses that exist in Turkey have been won in Turkey."

Revenue at the Turkey office grew by around 40 per cent in 2015. Its clients include PwC, GSK, Dove and Becel.

Buyukfirat said: "Four years ago, I had the privilege of establishing and leading Edelman’s Turkey office from a start-up where we have built an outstanding business with a number of global marquee clients.

"Nothing will change in the lives of our clients or our staff, as we are moving forward with the same team, with the same high quality of services, enhanced by Edelman standards, quality and global network. While we continue to serve our existing clients, we are confident and determined to further grow our business in Turkey with many successful campaigns."

The transition is expected to take place in the next couple of months.

In a statement, Stewart said: "Our strategy in the region is focused on building out global hubs that can serve communications marketing clients at scale, so it no longer makes sense to have a wholly owned office the size of our Turkish operation. We do however have global client demand and we are excited about continuing to service our clients in the Turkish market, alongside Serra and her fantastic team."

Speaking to PRWeek UK last year as part of the Global Agency Business Report, Stewart said the agency could scale back operations in parts of Europe alongside selected acquisitions.

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