Turkey 2015 – GC Powerlist

Turkey 2015

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Ali Uysal

Head legal counsel | Turkish Airlines

Heading all legal operations of Turkish Airlines and managing more than 30 employees, Ali Uysal has led some significant changes in the legal department during his two years in the...

Ana Lluch

Head of legal | Ursa Insulation SA

Ursa’s head of legal, Ana Lluch is responsible for 20 jurisdictions in which the company operates, including Turkey. When she first assumed her position in 2005 there was no legal...

Asli Irmak Acar Kurşun

Legal counsel | LG Electronics

Aslı Irmak Acar Kurşun has experienced rapid progression over the course of her career. Only four years after the start of her professional career she became the first in-house counsel...

Asli Sahinkaya

Head of legal | Tani

Tani, a technology company, operates within the Koç Group, Turkey’s largest industrial and services group. Aslı Şahinkaya was the first in-house counsel to join Tani, and ‘the major change for...

Ayse Tümerkan

Legal affairs director | Abdi Ibrahim

Legal affairs director Ayşe Tümerkan joined Abdi İbrahim, the first Turkish company on the list of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, in 2008 to assist with legal work produced in...

Bahar Yenerer

Head of legal and compliance | Atos

Bahar Yenerer joined Atos Turkey as head of legal and compliance in 2012, after a successful career in major Turkish law firms. When she first started at Atos Turkey, the...

Bengü Halavut Yıldırım

Head legal counsel and corporate compliance officer | Bayer

Having served for nearly seven years as the head legal counsel and corporate compliance officer for Bayer, a global enterprise with core competencies in the field of healthcare, agriculture and...

Berna Avdan

Head of legal | Garanti Bank


Highly experienced in the banking sector, Berna Avdan has worked for some of the country’s biggest banks. She started her career in the banking sector with Osmanli Bank, where she...

Burcu Sener Sözer

Head of legal | Aygaz

Burcu Şener Sözer is the head of legal at Aygaz, Turkey’s seventh largest industrial organisation. She joined Aygaz in 2011, after 13 years in private practice at several top Turkish...

Buse Pınar Kaçar

Chief legal and corporate affairs officer | Yörsan

With an illustrious career spanning in-house and private practice, Buse Pınar Kaçar has held senior roles in major multinational companies, including Carrefour and GSK. She joined Yörsan as chief legal...

Caghan Tansel

Head of legal & country compliance officer | RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser)

Çağhan Tansel has led some of the most significant changes in the legal function at RB Turkey. When he assumed his position in 2012 the local branch did not have...

Cagla Zıngıl

Group legal director | Akkok Sanayi Yatirim ve Gelistirme AS

Çağla Zıngıl, group legal director, joined Akkok Sanayi Yatirim ve Gelistirme, a company with operations in chemical, energy, and real estate sectors in Turkey, eight years ago as the only...

Cem Çeliker

Chief legal counsel / vice president | ENKA Insaat ve Sanayi A.S

‘With a workforce of over 20,000 people and with more than 50 subsidiaries operating globally mainly in construction, energy and real estate sectors, my role requires me to oversee and...

Cesur Kılınç

General counsel | Anadolu Group

Cesur Kılınç has been the general counsel of Anadolu Group since 2000. Kılınç joined the company, one of Turkey’s leading conglomerates, as legal director in 1994. Prior to that, he...

Ceyda Akbal

General counsel | TAV Airport Holding

Ceyda Akbal joined TAV Airport Holding, the leading airport operator in Turkey, in 2009 as legal counsel and, after only three years, was promoted to the role of general counsel....

Çigdem Dayan

Chief legal counsel | ING Bank A.S.


The highly praised Çiğdem Dayan, ING Bank’s chief legal counsel, has impressed peers and clients alike with her navigation of major deals. A highly experienced lawyer within the banking sector,...

Deniz Reha Özilhan

Head of legal | BP

When he joined BP Turkey as the head of legal, Deniz Reha Özilhan’s first and defining task was the establishment of the legal department in the company. For that purpose...

Ebru Gürdemir

General counsel Greater Middle East & Africa | Tetrapak

Ebru Gürdemir joined Tetrapak as a legal counsel heading all legal operations across Greater Middle East and Africa in 2011. She has already had an impressive in-house career in some...

Ekin Sungur

Head of legal | BNP Paribas Cardif

Ekin Sungur is the head of legal at BNP Paribas Cardif Turkey. She started her legal career at Moroglu Arseven Ozdemir where she worked for two years before moving over...

Esra Ünal

Head of legal | Türkerler Holding

Esra Ünal was appointed head of legal of Statkraft Turkey in 2012. Previously she had worked as a legal counsel for Tucas Petrol for four years and as a regulatory...

Gökhan Saraç

Vice president - general counsel | Unilever

Throughout nearly two decades at the helm of all legal services, Gökhan Saraç has led the award-winning legal function of Unilever NametRub (North Africa, Middle East, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Caucasia,...

Gözde Çolak

Head legal counsel | Procter & Gamble

Gözde Çolak joined Procter & Gamble in 2009 as an assistant legal counsel; in 2011 she was promoted to legal counsel and is currently the acting head legal counsel. With...

Gözde Kuşçuoğlu

Senior legal counsel | Alshaya

Alshaya’s senior legal counsel, Gözde Kuşçuoğlu, has served the company for nine years and has always performed to the highest standards. When she first joined, the successful retail franchise company...

Gülenay Ruşen Gelmez

Legal counsel and compliance officer | AES Entek

Since joining AES Entek in 2012, Gülenay Ruşen Gelmez has led major changes in the structure of the company by merging all department legal matters into a central function. She...

Gunce Çakır Ildun

Head of legal | Deutsche Bank


With 15 years of in-house experience in the banking sector, Gunce Çakır İldun’s role has been pivotal for the success of the legal work at Deutsche Bank Turkey. ‘There was...

Hakan Bekiroğlu

Chief legal officer | Tofaş

A business-oriented commercial lawyer, Hakan Bekiroğlu always strives to invest a lot of personal enthusiasm in his work. As chief legal officer at Tofaş, the market-leading company in the automotive...

Hande Karakülah

Head of legal Turkey & MENA, | AVON

Hande Karakülah spent almost five years at British American Tobacco, before moving industry to join Avon, one of the world’s leading direct sellers of beauty and related products, as head...

Juergen Schminke

Assistant general counsel, member of the regional management board | CSC

With over twenty years in CSC Germany, assistant general counsel Juergen Schminke is highly skilled in the legal and business aspects of IT, demonstrating significant experience in negotiations of large...

Kayhan Karabayır

Legal affairs director | Çimentas Group

During his 17 years of experience within Çimentas Group, Kayhan Karabayır has taken wide-reaching initiatives to increase the proactivity and productivity of the legal department. ‘I developed the information channels...

Kenan Yılmaz

General counsel | Koç Holding A.Ş.

‘When I started at Koc, we were a team of only three lawyers and our scope of work was limited to purely legal; we were not involved in the business...

Kurtulus Caltekin

Head of legal | AvivaSA Pension and Life Insurance


Heading all legal operations at AvivaSA, one of Turkey’s leading private pension and life insurance companies and a joint venture with Sabanci Group, Kurtuluş Çaltekin joined the company in 2012....

Markus Renfert

Senior counsel | European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)


Markus Renfert joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development six years ago as a project finance lawyer, following nine years at a magic circle law firm. His qualification under...

Mehmet Celal Savas

General counsel and board member | Siemens

As the general counsel of Siemens Turkey for nearly a decade, Mehmet Celal Savas has succeeded in transcending the structure of the legal department from ‘the classic legal concept to...

Mehmet Yılmazer

Legal affairs director | Akfel Holding

Within only two years in Akfel Holding, legal affairs director Mehmet Yılmazer has managed to establish a central legal department that is at the pinnacle of performance. In his current...

Meltem Azbazdar

General counsel | Mey İçki San. Ve Tic. A.S.

A well-known and widely respected lawyer, Meltem Azbazdar has had an impressive career spanning in-house and in private practice. She started her career in the Istanbul offices of Denton Wilde...

Meltem Özker Gündüz

Legal affairs and compliance director | Novo Nordisk

Meltem Özker Gündüz is the legal affairs and compliance director, managing legal and compliance tasks for Novo Nordisk in the Near East Business Area covering Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan,...

Müge Önal

Head of legal | LUKOIL Eurasia

A highly skilled energy lawyer with 15 years of experience in different sectors of the energy industry, Müge Önal heads all Eurasian legal activities of Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil...

Murat Vanlıoğlu

Head of legal | Shell

Current head of legal at Shell, Murat Vanlıoğlu, has had an enviable career to date. He started his in-house career in the banking sector, joining Ernst & Young as a...

Nazli Dereli Oba

Legal coordinator | Karadeniz Holding

For Nazli Dereli Oba, legal coordinator at Karadeniz Holding, the creation of the legal department in the company has been the greatest achievement of her in-house career. In 2012, when...

Necati Karabayır

Head of legal & compliance, country general counsel | Vaillant Group

Necati Karabayır joined Vaillant, an internationally operating heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technology in 2013, after leaving Siemens. An ambitious individual, it took Necati just eight years to reach the level...

Nihan Seda Kişi

In-house counsel | Türkmen Holding

Having completed her first ever year as an in-house counsel, following a successful career of seven years in law firms, Türkmen Holding’s first in-house counsel Nihan Seda Kişi has set...

Oktay Demir

Chief legal officer | D-smart (Dogan TV Digital Platform Isletmeciligi A.S)

Prior to the establishment of D-smart, Oktay Demir was a legal consultant at Dogan TV Holding. He was appointed chief legal officer to take up the challenge of establishing a...

Oyku Api

Country legal manager | Metlife

Highly experienced in corporate and commercial affairs, Oyku Api was appointed country legal manager at Metlife in 2011. Prior to that, Api was working for a law firm, dealing with...

Ozan Alakustekin

Head of legal | THY OPET

Ozan Alakuştekin takes pride in having given a start to the whole legal structure of THY OPET, which ranks 25th on Turkey’s Fortune 500 list. Head of legal, Alakuştekin has...

Özen Keskin

General counsel and corporate legal manager | Generali Sigorta A.Ş.

Özen Keskin recently returned to Generali, the global insurance giant set to be one the main players in the Turkish market, taking up the challenge of building an in-house legal...

Pamela Iyer

Senior legal counsel | PM Group

For Pamela Iyer, senior legal counsel at PM Group, every day at the office is an achievement, as in-house counsel are required to find solutions to business issues as and...

Ruba Unkan

Legal affairs director | Sabancı Holding

For Ruba Unkan, legal affairs director at Sabancı Holding, the largest industrial and financial conglomerate by profit in Turkey, every day offers a unique challenge due to the diverse nature...

Sebnem Önder

Legal director | British American Tobacco

Following a successful twenty-year career at White & Case, in 2014 Şebnem Önder assumed her first in-house role as the legal director at British American Tobacco Turkey and Northern Cyprus....

Selin Evrem

Head of legal & compliance officer | Henkel

Billed as a ‘pragmatic and result-oriented professional’ Selin Evrem has been head of legal and compliance officer at Henkel Turkey since 2013. Prior to joining Henkel, Evrem was a corporate...

Selin Küçükkayıkçı

Senior legal counsel | Limak Yatırım Enerji Üretim İşletme Hizmetleri ve İnşaat A.Ş.

Limak Holding is a Turkish conglomerate with major operations in the fields of energy, infrastructure, tourism, port and airport management and aviation; it has been included in the world’s largest...

Senay Gurel

Legal director CIS, Greater Europe, MEA | Paypal Inc

Heading all legal operations of Paypal in the CIS, MEA and Greater European regions, Senay Gurel has taken up a very challenging role dealing with e-money, a fast evolving area,...

Simhan Savaşçın Başaran

Chief legal counsel | Eczacıbaşı Group

Simhan Savaşçın Başaran is the chief legal counsel of Eczacıbaşı Group, a prominent industrial group that contains 41 companies. She joined the group seven years ago and has since expanded...

Süreyya Uğurses

Country legal counsel, company secretary and assistant general manager | Citibank


A veteran banking in-house lawyer with almost 20 years of experience in the field, Süreyya Uğurses has worked for some of the country’s biggest banks, including Isbank, HSBC and Eurobank....

Tansu Akin

Corporate secretary, legal and compliance | Mercedes-Benz

During his time as corporate secretary in Mercedes Benz, Tansu Akin has turned a one person in-house department into an 11 member team that excels in all areas of its...

Tuba Çetin Alpa

Head of legal department | Cargill

During her 17-year tenure as senior lawyer and head of legal department for Cargill, Tuba Çetin Alpa has played a central role in the company’s regional growth. Cargill is an...

Tugbay Ekinli

Vice president & associate general counsel legal operations international | GlaxoSmithKline

Tugabay Ekinli, vice president and associate general counsel legal operations international at GSK believes he has always been very lucky in his career. It was less than a decade ago...

Tülay Aktan

Legal & corporate affairs director | Efe İçecek Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş

Tülay Aktan joined Efe İçecek Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş in 2012 as the legal and corporate affairs director. She invested a lot of time and effort in the improvement of...

Ümit Çakır

Head of legal | AstraZeneca

Supporting the legal operations of AstraZeneca across the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, requires a high degree of commercial alignment with the businesses goals. Ümit Çakır, as acting head of...

Yasemin Genc

Legal and corporate affairs director | Microsoft

Heading all legal and corporate affairs in Microsoft Turkey, Yasemin Genc has strived to shift the perception of the legal department within the business. To this end she has taken...

Zeynep Derman Küçükönder

Legal director | Coca-Cola

Food, beverages and tobacco

Described as ‘a proactive individual with strong negotiation skills’, Coca-Cola Turkey’s legal director Zeynep Derman Küçükönder has been working in-house for more than 17 years. With extensive experience in multinational...

Zihni Gönen

Chief legal counsel | IC Holding

With continuing activities of the Turkish construction company IC Holding at home and an increasing number of projects and transactions throughout the world, chief legal counsel Zihni Gönen is managing...

For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Turkey, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region …read more

The GC Powerlist is a series of publications, highlighting the most influential in-house lawyers in business today.

We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Turkey, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each jurisdictional list. GC Powerlist: Turkey features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from the law firms about how they feel individual corporate counsel have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.

If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Turkey, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Turkey or global), please do get in touch at corporatecounsel@legal500.com.

We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.

David Burgess
Publishing Director

Esin Attorney Partnership, A member firm of Baker & McKenzie

Esin Attorney Partnership, A member firm of Baker & McKenzie logo

It is hard to look back on the legal developments of 2015 without first acknowledging that it was a year of change for Turkey. The legal profession has played a key role in many of the country’s pivotal moments, and will continue to do so in the coming year. Now, we take a moment to reflect back on some of the market’s most significant changes, and how we can respond to them together.

One of the year’s significant developments is the drop in domestic M&A in Turkey. Baker & McKenzie’s Global Transactions Forecast, created in partnership with Oxford Economics, predicts that domestic M&As will continue to decrease from 67% of Turkey’s total M&A value in 2014 to 48% in 2018. Turkey’s economic fluctuations combined with the rising value of the USD, which many Turkish companies hold in reserve, have combined to create an attractive environment for Turkish companies investing abroad, and we expect to see further outbound investments in the coming year.

Among the year’s many developments, the Istanbul Arbitration Centre ranks as one of the most promising. The Centre will provide foreign and domestic companies the opportunity to arbitrate disputes through a specialized institution in Istanbul. This is especially important for companies with projects in Turkey or with Turkish companies, as close proximity to the tribunal can significantly decrease the cost of arbitral proceedings. The Centre has the potential to establish Turkey as a regional dispute resolution hub, much like London or Paris.

New rules governing the squeeze out of minority shareholders of public companies have also kept the Capital Markets team busy; we advised on one of Turkey’s first squeeze-outs after the new rules came into force, making squeeze-outs significantly friendlier to minority shareholders than the original regulation. The new regulation will undoubtedly increase the number of Turkish public companies going private in the coming years.

Data privacy has also evolved rapidly over the past year, as Turkey endeavors to match European standards. The creation of Turkey’s first national data center, the easing of restrictions on the international transfer of personal data, and tightening restrictions on the internet all impact Turkish and multinational companies alike.

We strive to not only provide you with the expected support on legal transactions, but to go above and beyond in our efforts to help you understand and respond to Turkey’s changing market conditions. This may come in the form of events, such as our Private Equity Roundtable or Turks Investing Abroad seminar; publications like Kluwer’s Arbitration in Turkey, their first publication on the topic which was edited by our Arbitration team, and our innovative Cross-Border M&A Index created in conjunction with MergerMarket; or workshops such as the IPO Bootcamp.

Additionally, we seek to give back to the community which has given us so much. Our Diversity Committee has been active this year in efforts to promote awareness about gender, ethnic, disability, and LGBTI related diversity issues. The office’s lawyers and staff have worked pro bono with the Vance Center, PEN International, C@rma, UN Global Compact, and other organizations. We are excited to continue partnering with our clients to work for our community.

Finally, our goal is to elevate the legal profession into one of Turkey’s brightest career paths. We start with the youngest generation of lawyers, our trainees, but continue to provide opportunities for training and secondments to all of our attorneys and partners throughout their careers. Our dedication to the legal profession extends to our clients; with this sponsorship of the Legal 500’s GC Powerlist, we hope to draw attention to the great work being done by in-house teams, and the contributions that you make to your companies which extend well beyond the legal function.

We look forward to working with you on these and many other initiatives in the coming year.

GC Powerlist: United Kingdom 2023

On the evening of September 18th, 2023, The Legal 500 gathered with great enthusiasm at the charming JW Marriott Grosvenor House in the heart of London to launch the GC Powerlist: United Kingdom 2023. This special event was made possible thanks to our incredible partners, Pinsent Masons and Laurence Simons. Esteemed legal experts from across the country came together to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

The evening began with a warm welcome from Sara Maggi, the deputy editor for The Legal 500 GC Powerlist Series, who set the tone for the evening by sharing some of the key research findings. Following her, Andrew Masraf, the managing partner at Pinsent Masons, addressed the audience. He emphasised the significance of this gathering in recognising excellence within the legal community and highlighted some of the challenges currently faced by general counsel in the United Kingdom, underscoring the importance of collaboration in overcoming these challenges.

After this exciting start, our esteemed guests moved to the ballroom for a thrilling time at the Legal Business Awards.

This gathering was undeniably a great success. Congratulations to all those who were recognised and featured in this prestigious celebration of legal excellence!