ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish conglomerate Sabanci Holding expects 2006 sales to rise 18 percent year on year, while it hopes to buy or build a power generation business this year, it said yesterday. The firm said it would take important steps to move into the energy sector this year and Chief Executive Ahmet Dorduncu told Reuters the firm wanted to launch a greenfield project or make an acquisition in the power generation sector this year. He also reiterated the conglomerate’s interest in Turkey’s planned privatization of power distribution companies in 21 regions and said the company could also be interested in natural gas. The group expects to invest $620 million in 2006 from $550 million in 2005, it said at a presentation. Sabanci, whose businesses range from financial services to the food, retail and automotive sectors, estimated that group sales came in at $10.5 billion in 2005 and would rise to $12.4 billion this year. It did not give a net profit estimate for 2005, but asked whether full-year net profit growth would be in line with the 14.7 percent seen for the first nine months, Dorduncu said, «I guess it will be more or less the same.» Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in its non-financial businesses would rise to $580 million from an estimated $466 million in 2005. The family-owned holding’s financial businesses include Turkey’s leading private bank Akbank, which published on Friday a 41 percent rise in net profit, spurred by loan growth. Shares in Sabanci have risen more than 20 percent this year, outperforming a 13 percent rise on the main Istanbul index.