- Turkey’s online travel market is forecast to grow at over 20% per annum between 2016 and 2021
- Biletall is one of Turkey’s leading online travel agents with a dominant position in bus tickets and a growing presence in flight, ferry and train tickets
Istanbul, Turkey, 14 December 2017: The Abraaj Group (“Abraaj” or the “Group”), a leading investor operating in growth markets, today announced it has acquired, through its Anatolia Growth Capital Fund (the “Fund”), a minority stake in Biletal İç ve Dış Ticaret A.Ş (“Biletall” or the “Company”), one of the leading online travel agents (“OTAs”) in Turkey.
The transaction marks the first-ever technology investment undertaken by a private equity or venture capital fund outside of Ankara in the Anatolia region of Turkey, reflecting Abraaj’s continued support to the growth of small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) across the country. This is the third investment made from the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund.
Established in 2006, Biletall began its operations by selling intercity bus tickets online and has since grown to become one of Turkey’s leading OTAs and ticketing platforms. Today, the Company sells tickets for more than 170 intercity bus companies, over 120 domestic and international airlines, domestic ferry and train services. Through its combination of online and offline sales channels, Biletall achieved a 42% growth in ticket sales from 2016 to 2017.
The Company is also the proprietary developer and operator of the sole global distribution system (“GDS”) for online intercity bus tickets in Turkey. This advantage has helped position Biletall as Turkey’s leading OTA in intercity bus ticket sales. The Company also has a fast growing presence in online flight, ferry and train ticket sales in both B2B and B2C sales channels.
Turkey’s online travel market is a compelling sector to invest in given the country’s growing middle class, young population and conversion of offline to online retail driven by changing habits and increased internet penetration. OTA sales within the online travel sector are expected to grow due to the convenience, comparison capabilities and loyalty programs that are offered, as evidenced by the 4x projected growth in OTA penetration within bus ticket sales from 2016 to 2021.
Abraaj will support Biletall’s growth and strengthen its leading position among Turkish OTAs through targeted marketing and advertising, enhancing the Company’s loyalty program and CRM platform, and opportunistically expand to adjacent and value add services.
Commenting on the transaction, Selçuk Yorgancıoğlu, Partner and Head of Turkey and Central Asia at The Abraaj Group, said: “This investment represents an opportunity to partner with a rapidly growing and profitable technology company based in the Anatolia region of Turkey. The Turkish online travel market is forecast to grow at over 20% per annum between now and 2021, and this projected growth offers significant opportunities for Biletall. We look forward to utilizing our know-how and expertise from our other e-commerce and online platform investments, including Hepsiburada in Turkey and BigBasket in India, to help take Biletall to the next level.”
Levent Yeşildağ, Director and Head of Abraaj’s Anatolia Growth Capital Fund, said: “This proprietary transaction is a strong fit for the investment strategy and mandate of the Anatolia Growth Capital Fund, which invests in high growth companies in the Anatolian heartland of Turkey. 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 and solidify its market leading position within the online travel and tourism sector in Turkey.”
Yaşar Çelik, CEO and Board Member of Biletall, commented: “As an Anatolia based company, we are proud to have received the first ever technology investment by a Fund in our region. The combination of Abraaj’s successful track record in Turkey, depth of investment and operating expertise in online businesses across growth markets and Biletall’s experience and leading position in our industry will create synergistic value add to our company. We are confident that Abraaj is the right partner for Biletall, and we look forward to working with the team going forward.”
Abraaj’s Anatolia Growth Capital Fund invests in high growth companies in the less developed regions of Turkey, targeting 43 provinces with per capita incomes below 75% of the national average, offering substantial convergence opportunities and growth potential. The Fund has been established under the G43 Anatolian Venture Capital Project, co-financed by the Republic of Turkey and the European Union, and funded under the Competitive Sectors Program which is managed by the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology. In January 2015, Abraaj made Anatolia Growth Capital Fund’s inaugural investment in Kayseri-based BRN Sleep Products, a leading Turkish mattress and sleep products manufacturer, exporter and retailer. Anatolia Growth Capital Fund’s second investment was made in August 2015 in Istanbul and Sanliurfa based Yu-Ce Medical, a leading disposable medical supplies manufacturer in Turkey.
The Abraaj Group has been investing in Turkey since 2007 and its partner companies include the leading e-commerce business Hepsiburada, integrated logistics player Netlog and dairy manufacturer Yörsan Group.