Sakıp Sabancı bigraphy, stories - Turkish businessman

Sakıp Sabancı : biography

07 April 1933 - 10 April 2004

Sakıp Sabancı (7 April 1933 – 10 April 2004) was a prominent Turkish business tycoon and philanthropist.

Born as the second son of a cotton trader, he worked in all the ranks of his father's business without completing high school. He was the head of Turkey's largest business conglomerate and 147th richest man on the Forbes list of the world's top billionaires in 2004. Sakıp Sabancı described himself as such: "I get angry when someone calls me only rich; I am happy with my social personality and my generosity."

Sabancı was among the most colorful personalities in the Turkish business world. After taking over the family business, with his energy, initiative and courage alongside the assistance of his brothers, he carried the Sabancı Group among the world's top companies starting in the 1980s. In fact, from its very beginning Sakip Sabanci, and his brothers engaged in international business. The first business relations that Sakip Sabanci had with other firms started with his father, Hacı Ömer Sabancı, who exported cotton from Adana and needed machinery to create finished goods. Sabanci had textile goods sent to both Italy and Germany for printing in the 1970s. Sakip Sabanci developed many international business contacts through his work with trade delegations sent from Turkey to other countries such as the United States.

Today, the Sabanci Group of Companies operates in eighteen different countries. The organization also markets its products in many regions of the world including North and South America, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The Sabanci Group retains its strong reputation and image that was mostly established by Sakip Sabanci, and has continued to engage in numerous joint ventures as a means of extending its operations on a global level. Currently, Sabancı Holding controls more than 60 companies, which are involved in textiles, tourism, automotives, chemicals, tobacco, cement, insurance and banking. The group also has partnerships with some of the well-known multinational companies, such as Hilton Group, Bridgestone, Du Pont, Philip Morris, Bekaert, Heidelberg Cement, IBM, BNP Paribas, Dresdner Bank, Carrefour and International Paper. Sabancı Holding, and ten other companies within the group are listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. In 2011, the consolidated revenue of the company was $13.4 billion. The Sabanci Family is the majority shareholders of Sabanci Holdings with a 60.6% share of the firm.

Some of Sakip Sabanci’s greatest contributions were to education and arts in Turkey. Sabancı family founded the charitable Sabanci foundation in 1974, which runs more than 120 health, education and cultural centers throughout Turkey. Sakip Sabanci founded the Sabancı University in 1999. His collections of more than 320 Ottoman and Turkish paintings, statues and more than 400 examples of Ottoman calligraphy are exhibited at Atlı Köşk (The Equestrian Villa) at Bosporus in Emirgan, Istanbul, where he and his family lived for years, and which was converted into the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in 2002.

Sabancı was a humorous, folksy figure, who loved the media limelight and rejoiced in being known as "Sakıp Ağa".

He died of kidney cancer at the age of 71. Sabancı was honored with an unusual state funeral and was laid to rest at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Türkan, his son Metin, two daughters Dilek and Sevil and a granddaughter Melissa.


He wrote books mostly on his experience in business life. Some of them are translated into English and Japanese language. The royalties from his books are being donated to Darülaceze (Almshouse) and Türkiye Spastik Çocuklar Vakfı (Turkey Foundation for Spastic Children).

  1. İşte Hayatım (This is my life), 1985
  2. Para Başarının Mükafatıdır (Money is the reward of success), 1985
  3. This is my life (English) 1988
  4. Gönül Galerimden (From the galleria of my hearth), 1988
  5. Rusya'dan Amerika'ya (From Russia to America), 1989
  6. Ücret Pazarlığı mı ? - Koyun Pazarlığı mı ? (Is it wage bargain or sheep bargain ?), 1990
  7. Değişen ve Gelişen Türkiye (Turkey, Changing and Developing), 1991
  8. Daha Fazla İş Daha Fazla Aş (More work, more food), 1993
  9. Doğu Anadolu Raporu (Eastern Anatolian report), 1995
  10. Başarı Şimdi Aslanın Ağzında (Success is now in the lion's mouth), 1998
  11. İşte Hayatım (Japanese), 2000
  12. Hayat Bazen Tatlıdır (Life is sometimes sweet), 2001
  13. Sakıpname (Dedicated to Sakıp), 2002
  14. ...bıraktığım yerden Hayatım; (My life from where I left off), 445 pp, ISBN 975-293-181-2.
  15. Her Şeyin Başı Sağlık; (Health first) 176 pp, ISBN 975-293-217-7.


He was awarded by various national and international institutions as listed below:

  • 1979 "Golden Mercury Award" given to successful businessmen.
  • 1987 Belgian "Ordre de Léopold II, Commander Class" by Belgian Prince Albert (now King Albert II of Belgium).
  • 1992 Japanese "Order of the Sacred Treasure, Golden and Silver Star" from the Japanese Government.
  • 1997 Turkish "State Medal of Distinguished Service" by the Turkish President Süleyman Demirel.
  • 1997 "European Chrystal World Award" from the European Institute for Economy in Zurich, Switzerland.
  • 1999 "Businessman of the Year Award" by the FABSIT (Friends of American Board Schools in Turkey) Foundation in New York, USA.
  • 1999 Turkish "Grand Prize of Culture and Arts" from the Ministry of Culture of the Turkish Republic.
  • 2001 Turkish "Industry Technology and Quality Award" by the GYTE (Gebze Institute for High Technology).
  • 2001 French "Légion d'honneur" from President Jacques Chirac for his contributions to the Franco-Turkish relationships in culture and business.

Honorary doctorates

Sabancı received honorary doctorates from following Turkish and American universities:

  • 1984 Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir
  • 1986 University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire, USA
  • 1992 Yıldız Üniversitesi, Istanbul
  • 1993 Erciyes Üniversitesi, Kayseri
  • 1997 18 Mart Üniversitesi, Çanakkale
Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi, Istanbul
Girne American University, Kyrenia, Cyprus
Trakya Üniversitesi, Edirne
Istanbul Universitesi, Istanbul
  • 1998 Southeastern University, Washington D.C., USA
  • 1999 Çukurova Üniversitesi, Adana
  • 2002 Kırıkkale Üniversitesi, Kırıkkale
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