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Portrait of Vural Öger - A German with a Turkish heart

Portrait of Vural Öger - A German with a Turkish heart

Öger started charter flights to Anatolia for Turkish guest workers in 1969. The student Vural Öger, who came to Berlin in 1961 before the first guest workers came to Berlin as a student of metallurgy and mining, was astonished to find that there were no direct flights to Turkey from Hamburg, so he chartered an airplane and sold the tickets to his compatriots.

Öger has been offering trips to Turkey for vacationers since the late 1970s. The provider Öger came into the spotlight when a plane chartered by Öger Tours crashed into the Caribbean in 1996 and 189 people died.

Vural Öger (68) is one of the most successful Turkish immigrants in Germany. More than 40 years ago, he set up his own business in Hamburg with a business idea: he offered charter flights for Turkish guest workers to their homeland. From this, Öger developed a group of companies that recently looked after around 1.3 million travelers and also flew to other travel destinations such as Thailand, Kenya and Venezuela.

After lengthy negotiations, Öger is now selling his life's work, but becomes a member of Thomas Cook's supervisory board. The decision was not easy for him, says Öger. "But it is a future-oriented and future-oriented decision for the continuation of my life's work, which my daughter and I made with full conviction and will support."

The 36-year-old daughter Nina Öger has been responsible for the operational business for six years, her father for strategic planning. Together they want to continue in the family-owned companies, including the flight operator Öger Türk Tur GmbH and the event agency Holiday Plan.

Vural Öger came to Germany in 1961, learned the language and enrolled in Berlin to study metallurgy and mining. Even then he was working for a student travel agency. It struck him that there were no cheap return charter flights for his compatriots in the country of guest workers. In 1969, Öger stumbled into this niche in the market with his "start-up" company, the company expanded, flourished and rose to one of the "Top 10" in Germany.

- Founding: 1969 as a pure flight service mainly for Turkish guest workers, 1982 expansion to the Öger Group.
- Brands: Öger Tours, att Touristik, Öger Türk Tur
- Employees: 3100 (mainly in Turkey)
- Turnover: 2008/09: 696 million euros
- Market share in Germany: 4.2 percent, ranking: 7th
- Travel participants: 1.32 million

But the businessman Öger is not only committed to building his company with heart and soul. The vehement advocate of Turkey joining the EU is also politically active. He founded a German-Turkish foundation, joined the SPD in 2004 and debated for it in the European Parliament for the five years until 2009.

Because of his "picture book career", he was dubbed a "Prussian Turk" or a "Turkish Hanseatic" in Hamburg. He himself, who has had a German passport since 1990, describes himself as a "German with a Turkish heart". (dpa)

Thomas Cook takes over Öger Tours

Europe's second largest tour operator Thomas Cook is taking over Turkey specialist Öger Tours for 30 million euros. Company founder Vural Öger had tried in vain to sell his company to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedew.

Europe's second largest tourism group Thomas Cook is taking over the tour operator Öger Tours, which specializes in package tours to Turkey, for around 30 million euros. This amount is composed of a cash payment as well as loan debts and similar liabilities from the past twelve months, the Thomas Cook Group announced on Monday. In addition, business areas that remain in the seller's possession have agreed to supply Thomas Cook free of charge with agency and hotel services worth 2.5 million euros.

Company founder Öger and his daughter Nina step down as managing director of Öger Tours after the takeover, Vural Öger joins the supervisory board of the German Thomas Cook AG. Öger had been trying to sell his company for some time, but negotiations with Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev had petered out.

Thomas Cook assumes that the transaction will bring synergies of 8 million euros per year. Above all, this should be achieved through operational savings, increased use of the Condor, better utilization of the aircraft and the joint purchase of flights, hotels and destination services. Thomas Cook expects to fully leverage the synergies in the second full financial year after the takeover.

According to the information, the acquisition is subject to antitrust approval by the European Commission and should be completed before or in September 2010. Thomas Cook will use the Öger brand as a special tour operator for trips to Turkey and neighboring destinations and will keep the Hamburg location.

According to Thomas Cook, Öger Tours carried more than 400,000 passengers in the past financial year (as of October 31, 2009) and achieved a turnover of 256 million euros and an operating profit of 3.3 million euros. After an extraordinary value adjustment of 8.8 million euros, Öger Tours reported a pre-tax loss of 7.3 million euros. The current business is going well and Öger Tours expects further growth in sales and earnings in the current year.

As of October 31, 2009, Öger Tours had gross assets of EUR 49.2 million. Of this, 34.4 million euros were accounted for by an investment in Holiday Plan Turizm Isletmecilik ve Ticeret A.S (Holiday Plan), which will be taken out upon completion of the transaction and transferred to Vural Öger. This company will therefore not be taken over by Thomas Cook. Accordingly, the financial results of Holiday Plan were not taken into account in the key figures for sales, operating profit and loss before taxes of Öger Tours. The Thomas Cook Group will only take over the tour operator business from Öger Tours, which is based in Germany. Öger Türk Tur GmbH and Vural Ögers Turkish holdings are excluded from the transaction.

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