Turkish tea producer Çaykur loses 1.5 billion liras in three years

(Updates with economic analyst tweet)

Turkish state-owned tea producer Çaykur has made losses of 1.5 billion Turkish liras ($215 million) over the last three years after being transferred to the control of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund, newspaper BirGün said on Sunday.

Çaykur, which has a total debt of 3.5 billion liras ($500 million), paid 395 million liras ($56.7 million) in interest last year, according to the latest data.

Çaykur is one of the most important economic institutions in the Black Sea region. The company made a profit of 116 million liras ($16.6 million) from 2014 to 2017, when it was then transferred to the control of the Turkey Wealth Fund (TWF).

TWF, which is chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, controls the country's largest state-run enterprises, including two banks, energy sector companies and flagship carrier Turkish Airlines.

The latest figures suggest that the company’s losses of 486 million liras ($69.7 million) incurred between 1992 to 2017 tripled in just the last three years.

However, Çaykur’s commercial revenues increased by 322 million liras ($46.2 million) in 2019 compared to the previous year, BirGün said. Çaykur’s’s revenues were 842 million liras ($120.8 million) in 2019, and 519 million liras ($74.5 million) in 2018.

“How does Çaykur, which dominates 50% of the market, suffer such losses?” asked economic analyst Fatih Sezer, sharing a table of the tea producer’s yearly profits and losses between 1992 and 2019.