ISTANBUL, March 11 A court in the Caribbean has
ruled in favour of Sweden's TeliaSonera in a case
relating to a long-running dispute over the ownership of Turkish
mobile phone company Turkcell, Teliasonera said on
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has imposed restrictions
on locally-registered units, in which Turkcell shareholder
Cukurova Holding owns stakes and through which the latter exerts
its control of Turkcell, the Swedish company said.
The ruling means the units, in particular British Virgin
Islands-registered Cukurova Telecom Holdings Ltd, which controls
Turkcell and in which Cukurova has a 51 pct stake, are
prohibited from any deal affecting the ownership of the stake
until the next hearing on March 26.
Cukurova was not available for immediate comment.
The ruling is the latest victory for TeliaSonera, whose
dispute with Cukurova dates back to 2005 when the Swedish group
agreed to buy the latter's stake in Turkcell, Turkey's biggest
mobile-phone operator, for $3.1 billion.
Cukurova backed out of the deal, leaving TeliaSonera to try
and force it to cough up the shares and seek damages.
The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, which
arbitrates in corporate disputes, in September 2011 awarded
TeliaSonera $932 million, plus interest. But the Turkish company
has not paid out and the dispute rumbles on.
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 which includes
the Caribbean entities covered by the latest court ruling.
The row has left Turkcell unable to pay dividends or pursue
a coherent growth strategy for several years.
Despite having agreed to sell its stake to TeliaSonera,
Cukurova instead pledged the shares to Russian telecoms group
Ultimo in return for a loan. Altimo then appropriated the
Turkcell stake after Cukurova defaulted on the loan.
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
Britain's Privy Council ruled on Jan. 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.
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.
(Reporting by Evren Ballim; Writing by Seda Sezer; Editing by