UPDATE 1-Cukurova gets more time to pay in row over Turkcell stake

Wed Feb 5, 2014 8:39am EST

ISTANBUL Feb 5 (Reuters) - The deadline for Turkey's Cukurova Group to pay $1.6 billion needed to recover a disputed controlling stake in Turkey's biggest mobile phone operator Turkcell has been pushed back, a British court said on Wednesday.

The Privy Council said that the deadline would be postponed until 60 days after a ruling in a separate case being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, related to a row between Turkcell's major shareholders.

Both cases revolve around a dispute over a 13.8 percent share in Turkcell, which had been held by Cukurova and is a controlling stake due to the company's ownership structure.

Russia's Altimo, an arm of oligarch Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, appropriated the stake when Cukurova defaulted on a $1.35 billion loan.

Britain's Privy Council ruled last July that Cukurova, owned by one of Turkey's richest men, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, must pay around $1.6 billion - a sum which includes interest payments - to Altimo within 60 days if it wants to recover the stake.

It gave an initial extension later that month to allow for the resolution of the U.S. case, which could prevent Cukurova from putting up the Turkcell stake as collateral in any new loan. That U.S. case remains unresolved.

Turkcell has been unable to agree the make-up of its board or pay dividends because of the dispute.

Cukurova is registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is why the case is being dealt with by Britain's Privy Council, the final court of appeal for some countries in the Commonwealth, a grouping of countries which are mostly former territories of the British Empire.

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