ISTANBUL Feb 18 A British court will decide in
two weeks time on the terms under which Turkey's Cukurova
Holding can recover a disputed stake in Turkcell, the
country's largest mobile phone operator, from Russian partner
Altimo appropriated the 13.8 percent Turkcell stake, which
carries controlling rights, after Cukurova defaulted on a $1.35
billion loan in 2005. Cukurova had put up the stake as
collateral for the loan.
Britain's Privy Council ruled last month that while Altimo
was entitled to take over the stake, Cukurova also had the right
to recover it if it paid the outstanding loan plus interest and
The court requested more information from both sides to help
it decide on the terms for such a recovery, and a court
spokesman said on Monday it would reconvene on March 4.
"This hearing aims to decide the terms on which Cukurova
will have the opportunity to recover the shares," court
spokesman Ben Wilson said.
"It is envisaged that this will be the final hearing on this
matter before the Privy Council," he said, adding that while the
March hearing aimed to decide the terms, a final written
judgement laying them down would come later.
The near six-year disagreement between Turkcell's major
shareholders has left the mobile phone operator unable to agree
the composition of its board, distribute dividends or pursue a
coherent growth strategy.
The dispute pits Turkish tycoon Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, a
Turkcell founder who owns Cukurova, against Altimo, the telecoms
arm of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group.
Altimo holds 13.2 percent of Turkcell. Nordic telecoms group
TeliaSonera holds 37 percent, while the remaining 34
percent is largely free float.
Sources told Reuters two weeks ago that Cukurova was seeking
a loan of up to $2 billion to recover the stake and that
Karamehmet may pledge his holdings in oil firm Genel Energy
or steel maker Noksel Celik Boru as collateral.