EBRD Project: Turkey - IDO Ferries
Every weekday morning, life-long Istanbul resident Serhan Somuncu, living on the Asian side of the Bosphorus strait, heads to the ferry terminal and catches a boat to the European side of the city where the small fashion company he runs is based.

The journey is quick, comfortable and stress-free – a remarkable combination in a fast-growing metropolis of some 15 million people, most of whom rely on cars or buses to commute to work and face monster traffic jams nearly every day.

Only two bridges cross the Bosphorus in the Istanbul area. During the week, these rapidly fill with vehicles carrying commuters from the largely residential Asian side of Turkey’s economic capital to the European shore, where the business district sits. Istanbul’s subway system doesn’t travel under the Bosphorus, meaning the ferry is by far the quickest and most convenient form of getting across the strait.

Serhan’s ferry is operated by Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri (IDO), one of the world’s largest commuter ferry companies. With 53 vessels carrying around 150,000 passengers a day, IDO plays a key role in the life of the city.

In June 2011, at the end of a competitive bidding process, the municipally-owned IDO was sold to a private consortium made up of Turkish companies Akfen Holding, Tepe Insaat and Sera Gayrimenkul and British company Souter Investments. The EBRD supported the privatisation – the first in Turkey’s municipal transport sector – by lending the consortium US$ 150 million to help finance the acquisition.

Under its new owners, IDO will offer passengers better food and retail services; a tariff structure that allows customers to travel more cheaply if they buy their tickets in advance; safe and well-maintained vessels; and new commuter lines that will enable workers from further outside Istanbul to travel into the city with ease.

The EBRD was keen to support the sale of IDO because of the deal’s landmark status in Turkey’s public transport sector. The Bank hopes that this successful transfer to private hands will encourage more municipal authorities to follow suit, allowing greater private sector participation in Turkey’s infrastructure. This will in turn lead to more reliable, efficient and comfortable services for passengers, especially in areas like Istanbul where traffic congestion is a major problem.

“The EBRD participated in the financing of the project, but they also contributed to our strategies and targets” adds Tolga Yardımcı, Business Development Director at IDO. “So not only from the financial side but also from the environmental side and community side, it is an advantage for us to work closely with the EBRD.”

Another aspect of the EBRD’s involvement in IDO’s privatisation was its support for equal opportunities at the company. Technical cooperation funds provided through the Bank will finance initiatives aimed at boosting the number of female staff at the ferry operator. Currently, women represent a small minority of IDO’s workforce.

Under its new owners, IDO expects to provide the people of Istanbul and the wider area with a fast, safe and reliable ferry service for many years to come.

Earlier this month the EBRD won Project Finance magazine’s European Transport Privatisation Deal of the Year award for the IDO project. The prestigious prize was awarded in recognition of the speed with which the deal was concluded as well as its complexity and ambition.

You can also watch the video about the IDO project.
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