Turkish companies’ debt woes, losses reflected in Fortune 500 rankings

The publication of an annual ranking of Turkey’s largest companies underscores the debt problems and losses they have faced during an economic downturn.

Total net profit of the firms dropped by 17 percent in 2018 to 54 billion liras ($11 billion) as expenses to finance debt surged by 126 percent to 139.2 billion liras, the annual Fortune 500 list showed.

119 of the 500 firms reported a loss for the year, according to the ranking, published by Fortune magazine’s Turkish-language version.

Turkish companies are laying off workers and slashing other costs as they seek to deal with an economic downturn sparked by a currency crisis that wiped 28 percent off the lira’s value last year. Many have applied to banks to restructure their debts.

Turkish oil refiner Tüpraş topped the list with 88.5 billion liras of net sales, which increased 64 percent from 2017, Fortune said. Tüpraş was followed by Energy Exchange Istanbul (EXIST) with sales of 63.8 billion liras and Turkish Airlines, which sold 62.8 billion liras of services.

Total net sales of the 500 companies rose by 32 percent to 1.59 trillion liras. Exports jumped by 57 percent in lira terms to 450 billion liras and by 19 percent in dollars.

Turkey’s inflation rate stood at 20.3 percent in December.

Rönesans İnşaat, a construction company with close ties to the government, was sixth in the list of exporters with sales of $3.3 billion, Fortune said.