ISTANBUL, July 29 Turkey's Cukurova Group has
been given an extension to pay the $1.56 billion needed to
recover a controlling stake in Turkey's biggest mobile phone
operator Turkcell, a British court said on Monday.
The ruling relates to a dispute over a 13.8 percent share in
Turkcell, which had been held by Cukurova and which is a
controlling stake due to the company's ownership structure.
Russia's Altimo, the telecoms investment 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 this month that Cukurova,
owned by one of Turkey's richest men, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet,
must pay $1.56 billion - a sum which includes interest payments
- to Altimo within 60 days if it wants to recover the stake.
But on Monday, the court said that appeals in a separate
case being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, which
could prevent Cukurova from putting up the Turkcell stake as
collateral in any new loan, must first be resolved.
Its ruling said the "overriding aim" of the court action in
New York was to prevent Cukurova from redeeming the stake.
"It is impossible to say that there would be no real
prospect of redemption if (Cukurova) were not being thwarted by
the New York Court orders from raising the necessary funds to
redeem the shares," the Privy Council ruling said.
The extension was left open-ended to allow for the
resolution of the U.S. case, and the payment of interest to
Altimo was suspended from Monday, the Privy Council said in an
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.