Once symbol of oppression, riot truck firm brakes after polls

Katmerciler Ekipman, a Turkish vehicle developer owned by a former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) lawmaker, saw its shares traded on Borsa Istanbul (BiST) drop sharply on the first day of trading after Sundayand’s election as investor appetite faded amid prospects of tension easing in the country.
The company, owned by former AK Party deputy ismail Katmerci, became famous for its TOMAs — armored water cannons designed for riot control — during the Gezi protests in the summer of 2013. Katmerciler shares on BiST suffered a 19 percent fall on Monday before recouping some of their losses on Tuesday. The TOMAs are notorious among Turkeyand’s oppressed groups, who on Sunday voted for an end to President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s plans for a powerful presidency.
Market experts said the TOMA firmand’s shares falling is symbolic in the sense that both investors and the public seek to see a calmer Turkey with less polarization. Erdogan was criticized for creating tension on purpose to consolidate his power base during the Gezi protests and the subsequent two corruption scandals. The president failed to use a conciliatory tone in many separate issues, causing social tension.
Anti-government protests in 2013 offered a boost to Katmerciler, generating business for the izmir-based company in nations such as Brazil and Libya that also face social unrest. Katmerciler sold 60 protest dispersion vehicles in 2013, up from 10 in 2012. The company had entered the TOMA business as early as 2010 and now has 350 workers. Its success is attributed to support from Erdogan. Back in November, a government deal to purchase 65 TOMAs worth TL 40.6 million from Katmerci helped his firmand’s shares skyrocket.
TOMAs are used by the police and gendarmerie and have been exported to countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Libya and Zimbabwe. The company was not immediately available to comment on its market performance on Tuesday.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman