ISTANBUL, March 4 A British court heard final
arguments from Turkey's Cukurova Holding and Russian partner
Altimo on Monday over a disputed controlling stake in Turkey's
largest mobile phone operator Turkcell, with a verdict expected
in the coming weeks.
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 the
stake up as collateral for the loan.
The shareholder row has left Turkcell unable to agree the
composition of its board, distribute dividends or pursue a
coherent growth strategy for several years.
Britain's Privy Council ruled on January 30 that while
Altimo had been entitled to take over the stake, Cukurova also
had the right to recover it if it paid the outstanding loan plus
interest and costs.
At the hearing on Monday, Cukurova argued the interest rate
on the loan should be U.S. Libor +1 percent, while Altimo said
Cukurova should pay a default rate of at least Libor +8 percent.
Sources familiar with the proceedings said they expect the
final figure to be somewhere between $1.6-$3.0 billion and for a
decision to be announced within the next three weeks.
The Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for many
Commonwealth countries, is hearing the case because the holding
companies involved are registered in the British Virgin Islands.