(Recasts with investor view on dividend, share price)
ISTANBUL, March 12 Turkey's financial industry
regulator has appointed three independent directors to
Turkcell's board, and a major investor said that
could herald resumed dividend payments at Turkey's biggest
mobile phone operator.
The Capital Markets Board (SPK) also removed three board
members, it said in an e-mailed statement issued late on Monday,
a decision welcomed by the main shareholders who have been at
loggerheads since 2005 over control of the group.
The complex ownership dispute between Turkey's Cukurova
Holding, Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera and
Russia's Altimo has left Turkcell unable to agree on its board.
It has not paid a dividend since 2009.
Shares in Turkcell rose more than four percent on the news.
"These assignments can be perceived as a signal that the
government is involved in solving Turkcell's ownership dilemma,"
FinansInvest said in a note. Two of the new independent members
of the seven-strong board are former ministers.
Cukurova welcomed the decision in a statement: "We think the
new appointments will help solve the continuing disputes and
deadlock in Turkcell."
TeliaSonera said it would now push for a meeting of
"We will now focus on the actions needed to convene an AGM
at the earliest possible time...so that the company can start
paying dividends again, which are long overdue," CEO Per-Arne
Blomquist said in a statement.
Such a move would be a big boost for Telia.
"Just getting the dividend through again, that would be a
material cash injection for Telia that could be passed straight
through to its shareholders, as Telia has no need to delever,"
said Andrew Hogley, analyst at Espirito Santo in London.
Hogley said it remained unclear how the new board members
would act and said the market needed to be convinced the change
The dispute between Turkcell shareholders over ownership
continues at the Privy Council in London, which is hearing the
case because the holding companies involved are registered in
the British Virgin Islands. The council is the highest court of
appeal for many Commonwealth countries.
TeliaSonera has the largest direct and indirect stake in
Turkcell, amounting to 37 percent, but Turkcell is controlled by
Cukurova through a complex shareholder structure.
Altimo appropriated Turkcell shares pledged by Cukurova in
return for a loan after the Turkish company defaulted. Altimo
and TeliaSonera joined forces against Cukurova in 2009, saying
they would set up a joint holding company to run their assets in
Turkey and Russia, where they have 90 million subscribers.
(Reporting by Evren Ballim in Istanbul, Simon Johnson and Olof
Swahnberg in Stockholm, Writing by Seda Sezer; Editing by Jon