Qatar buys shares in Istanbul’s Eurasia tunnel
Turkey’s Competition Authority on Monday opened the way for Qatar Investment Authority to purchase a large stake in Istanbul’s Avrasya Tunnel, saying that it had no power over the sale, therefore it will go ahead.
The Avraysa - or Eurasia - tunnel crosses underneath the Bosporus strait connecting the city's European and Asian sides, and was the world’s first 5.4-kilometre twin deck road tunnel when it opened in 2016.
SK Gas Ltd, a major oil supplier in South Korea, said in June that it was planning to sell its entire 36.49 percent stake in Singapore-registered SK Holdco Pte Ltd, which operates the road tunnel, for $111m.
SK Gas - which bought its stake in 2015 for $25m - said at the time that it was going to finalise the sale in a year with QH Oil Investments, a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority.
Turkey and Qatar are strategic partners whose cooperation has been expanding since the Gulf crisis in 2017, when Ankara stepped up its military presence to protect Doha against a possible coup.
In June that year, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Doha, imposing a blockade that lasted until a reconciliation agreement was signed in January 2021.
In late 2020, Qatar signed investment deals with Ankara worth billions of dollars, as its ally's economy suffered a currency crisis.
Qatar's substantial investments in Turkey range from cable TV platform Digiturk to Finansbank, the Istanbul Stock Exchange to the shopping mall Istinye Park.
Suat Sari, a member of Turkish nationalist opposition party IYI, said that the government was slowly and silently selling everything Turkey has to Arabs.
“It is part of the silent invasion,” he tweeted, in reference to an ultranationalist short movie that alleges Turkey would be controlled by Arabs in a few decades.
Sari also claimed that the Qataris may purchase other Turkish projects that have good returns.
Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said on Tuesday that the Avrasya tunnel broke a record on 8 September, when more than 65,000 vehicles used it to cross the Bosporus.