| NEW YORK, April 25
NEW YORK, April 25 A U.S. appeals court on
Friday threw out a ruling that froze the assets of Turkey's
Cukurova Holding AS, clearing the way for the company
to try to buy back a controlling stake in Turkey's biggest
mobile phone operator Turkcell.
The decision is the latest development in a longstanding
dispute over the ownership of Turkcell among its major
Nordic telecom company TeliaSonera AB had secured
an order from U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote last year
freezing Cukurova's assets until it paid a $932 million
arbitration award it owes to TeliaSonera, stemming from a
disputed Turkcell share sale.
But in the decision on Friday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in New York ruled the district court in New York did not
have jurisdiction over the case, since Cukurova lacks sufficient
connections to the state, and vacated Cote's order.
A lawyer for TeliaSonera, Pieter Van Hol, declined to
The decision is expected to trigger a two-month deadline for
Cukurova to pay $1.6 billion needed to recover the disputed
controlling stake in Turkcell.
The Privy Council, a British court, said in February it
would give Cukurova 60 days after the 2nd Circuit's decision to
pay the funds to Russia's Altimo in an effort to regain its
Altimo is a unit of oligarch Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group,
which appropriated the stake when Cukurova defaulted on a $1.35
"Cukurova will be able to proceed to arrange financing to
retrieve its interest in Turkcell," said Richard Holwell, a
lawyer for Cukurova.
Cukurova, headed by one of Turkey's richest men, Mehmet
Karamehmet, and Alfa have been fighting for years over control
of Turkcell, with TeliaSonera cooperating with Alfa. As a result
of the dispute, Turkcell has been unable to agree to the makeup
of its board or pay dividends.
Cukurova is registered in the British Virgin Islands, which
is why the case was heard by Britain's Privy Council, the final
court of appeal for some countries in the Commonwealth, a group
of mostly former territories of the British Empire.
Separately, Turkcell posted an increase in core earnings in
the first quarter on Friday, sending its shares up slightly.
The cases are Sonera Holding B.V. v. Cukurova Holding A.S.,
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Nos.
12-4280, 13-73 and 13-1880.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)