Alfa mulls Turkish investment when Turkcell case settled

ISTANBUL Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:33am EDT

ISTANBUL Aug 17 (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group may invest in Turkey's banking and retail sectors when its dispute with local firm Cukurova about shareholdings in mobile phone company Turkcell, is resolved.

The dispute between Alfa Group, which has an indirect 13.2 percent stake in Turkcell, and Cukurova, which owns 14 percent, over the ownership of another 13.8 percent stake is continuing at the Privy Council appeals court in London.

"We wait for resolution of this dispute before making any further plans," Evgeny Dumalkin, vice president of Alfa Group's telecoms arm Altimo, told Reuters in an e-mail on Friday. Alfa Group owns Alfa Bank - Russia's largest privately owned lender.

Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera has the largest direct and indirect stake in Turkcell, with 37 percent.

TeliaSonera and Altimo are locked in legal battles to wrest control of Turkcell from Cukurova, chaired by Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, one of Turkey's most powerful businessmen.

Having forced Karamehmet to step down as Turkcell chairman in 2010, the Nordic and Russian partners are pushing to oust his replacement, Colin Williams, a designated independent board member, who they regard as a proxy for Karamehmet.

Turkcell failed both to hold its annual general meeting and distribute dividends this year because of the deadlock.

Dumalkin said a verdict on the Turkcell case was expected towards the end of this year or at the beginning of 2013.

He also said Alfa Group's increased stake in Vimpelcom did not mean it would change its plans for Turkcell.

Alfa Group overtook Norwegian company Telenor as the biggest shareholder of emerging markets telecoms operator Vimpelcom on Wednesday.

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