Infrastructure investments during crisis pay off, says Astaldi

Published 30.10.2010 12:37

The Turkish government's decision to continue infrastructure projects even during the global crisis was a wise strategy and it is paying off, according to Paolo Astaldi, CEO of Astaldi, the Italian construction giant active in various fields including transportation and infrastructure.

Speaking to Today's Zaman in an interview on Thursday, Astaldi said he had a very positive view of the Turkish economy, saying it was one of the few countries that came out of the global crisis with minimal damage and was least affected by it during the height of the crisis. He said that Turkey's solid banking system also played an important role in the country's resistance to crisis.

"The government's infrastructure projects continued, and we can see the results of this today," he said. Astaldi noted that the Gebze-İzmir highway project, whose foundation was laid on Thursday, will create 50,000 new jobs in the area.

He also said his company, which was among the constructors of the Bolu Tunnel project, has been active in Turkey, contributing to 10 percent of the group's revenues, for the past 26 years. "We have seen Turkey grow little by little," he said.

In response to a question on why Astaldi joined the six-company consortium for the Gebze-İzmir highway project, Astaldi said his company's policy was the key factor behind the decision. "When we decide to enter a new country, we make a long-term decision. We don't go in just for a short time and run away." He said his group looked at factors such as stability, growth and whether Astaldi can contribute to this growth when deciding about entering a new market. He said the group's decision to take part in the project was a consequence of this philosophy. He also recalled that, before this project, Astaldi also worked in the building of the İstanbul underground with a very capable consortium.

Possible energy projects, Marmaray

He said his group was interested in good opportunities in Turkey, including railways, and was very much interested in the Marmaray project, an undersea tunnel linking Asia and Europe. "We have a good knowledge of underground systems," he said. He also noted that the company was interested in opportunities in other areas such as energy projects, including nuclear plants. The group has solid background in the area, as it was the last company to build a nuclear power plant in Italy. He said earlier in Turkey that they showed interest in the privatization of power plants but decided not to pursue this sector after a slowdown in the process.

Growth of Turkish construction

Astaldi also shared his views on the rapidly developing Turkish construction sector and the many successful projects of Turkish contractors abroad. He said the growth of Turkish construction in some cases was competition for his group, but also at the same time created opportunities for collaboration abroad. He gave the example of an underground project in Warsaw where Astaldi is collaborating with Turkey's Gülermak.

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