March 26, 2015 / 2:45 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Turkcell shareholders call truce to approve rare dividend

(Add company confirmation on dividend value, updates share price)

By Ceyda Caglayan

ISTANBUL, March 26 (Reuters) - Feuding shareholders of Turkish wireless carrier Turkcell called a truce on Thursday to pay themselves a $1.5 billion dividend, signalling a potential thaw in a protracted battle over the company.

Turkey’s largest mobile operator has been hamstrung by a decade of fighting for control between three investors: Sweden’s TeliaSonera, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, one of Turkey’s richest men.

The battle has choked decision-making at Turkcell and prevented it from holding annual general meetings and paying dividends for the past five years.

The three rivals struck a deal this week to propose a dividend and shareholders gathered on Thursday for the first time since 2010, voting to pay themselves around 3.9 billion lira ($1.5 billion).

The truce has raised hopes of an end to the fight, although Fridman’s Alfa Group has said shareholders remained deadlocked.

Alfa last week offered $2.8 billion to buy back a 14 percent stake in Turkcell from Karamehmet’s cash-strapped Cukurova Holding. But analysts have said the offer would likely be blocked because of Turkey’s opposition to market leader falling into foreign hands.

Shares of Turkcell ended down nearly 2 percent, after jumping more than 5 percent on Wednesday on news of the dividend proposal. ($1 = 2.5987 liras) (Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Daren Butler, David Clarke and David Evans)

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