ISTANBUL: Coca-Cola, Nestlé and IBM are among the global brands that have taken advantage of Turkey's strategic location as well as its sizeable domestic market, a new survey has found.

An Ernst & Young attractiveness survey, based on the tracking of actual foreign direct investment (FDI) projects as well as interviews with 201 international decision makers, established that Turkey's position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East was a major attraction for many businesses.

Over half of respondents to the survey were considering establishing or developing additional activities in Turkey over the next year. And 44% of respondents expected Turkey to become a regional and global business hub in the next 10 years.

Coca-Cola's Eurasia and Africa Business Unit, which covers 96 countries ranging from South Africa to Russia, is based in Istanbul, as is Coca-Cola İçecek, the company's sixth-largest bottler in terms of sales volume.

Hüseyin M. Akın, President, International Operations, Coca Cola İçecek, said the company had invested more than $700m in Turkey over the last seven years.

IBM and Nestlé, meanwhile, have invested in the Bursa region in order to serve the greater Middle East and North Africa market.

Turkey is also among the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, a fact that has encouraged Hilton Worldwide to plan 13 hotels in the country by 2014.

The survey found that while just over a quarter of planned activities are in sales and marketing, the sector commands over half of actual FDI projects. Ernst & Young argued that this gap highlighted "investors' appetite for new market opportunities, and is consistent with Turkey's overall perception as an operational hub".

The number of projects increased at an average annual growth rate of 53.8% between 2007 and 2012, with investment coming mainly from the US, Germany and the UK.

Few of those surveyed, however, thought that Turkey had a highly developed technological infrastructure, with 11% referring to this aspect, and fewer still, just 6.8%, regarded it as a leader in R&D and innovation.

In addition to the country's role as a hub, it is expected to lead a new wave of rapid-growth markets. Ahmet Ashaboğlu, the chief financial officer of conglomerate Koç Holding which has interests in the automotive and consumer durables sectors, pointed to such features as the "young population, mostly underpenetrated sectors, developed entrepreneurial skills" and "the ability to adapt to domestic and global dynamics".

Data sourced from Ernst & Young; additional content by Warc staff