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Salt Bae Diner among restaurants set for London IPO

[ISTANBUL] Turkish billionaire Ferit Sahenk is considering spinning off part of his restaurant business for a potential initial public offering, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr Sahenk's investment firm Dogus Holding AS is working with advisers to carve out some of the restaurants under Dogus Restaurant Entertainment & Management into a separate unit, said the people, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The spin-off will contain the franchise of Japanese restaurant Zuma and the Nusr-Et steakhouse, popularly known by its founder chef's meme Salt Bae, among others, the people said.

Once the spin-off is complete, the new unit could sell a dollar-denominated bond later this year and then IPO in London in 2019, the people said. D.ream, as the restaurant business is known, operates outlets including Da Mario, Fenix, Coya, Gina and Gunaydin, according to its website.

"Food and beverages is an area that we are very focused on and are growing fast," Dogus Holding said in an emailed statement. "We have various plans to further support this growth. 2018 will be a year that we will implement growth-oriented actions. We will do a lot of work in the area of food and beverages this year." Mr Sahenk, once Turkey's richest man, has been spending heavily on restaurants, marinas and hotels after selling his 31 per cent stake in Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA for almost US$5.5 billion. One of Dogus Holding's biggest investments is the US$1.5 billion development of Galataport, a cruise port and a compound of shopping malls on the Bosporus in central Istanbul.

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Shares of Dogus Oto and Dogus Gayrimenkul Yatirim, which are also part of Dogus Holding, surged. Dogus Oto advanced as much as 4.8 per cent, the biggest gain since Nov 8, while Dogus GYO rose 9.3 per cent.

Losses at Dogus Holding, which also has interests in hotels, car sales, television, finance, construction and energy, widened to US $390 million in the first half of 2017 from 276 million liras loss a year earlier, according to the most recent data on its website.

Mr Sahenk, who also owns Volkswagen AG's sole distributor in Turkey, is in talks to sell stakes in some assets and could strike a deal for one or more of these this year, Dogus Holding Chief Executive Husnu Akhan said in November. The company also wants to increase its number of hotels to 25 in three years from 19, he said.

Turkish companies are expected to raise about US$4 billion from IPOs this year, according to local brokerage Is Yatirim. They raised about US$700 million from IPOs last year, up from US$120 million in 2016 and the most since 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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