(Amends story after court corrects date in its statement)
ISTANBUL, June 18 (Reuters) - A British court on Wednesday extended to July 30 the deadline for Turkey’s Cukurova Holding to pay $1.6 billion to recover a disputed stake in mobile operator Turkcell from Russia’s Altimo.
Cukurova and Altimo - the telecoms investment arm of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group - have been fighting for seven years for control of Turkcell, choking decision-making at the company and preventing the payment of dividends.
The Turkish government is keen for Turkcell, the country’s biggest mobile phone operator, to remain in Turkish hands and for Cukurova to secure financing from a local partner to recover the stake.
Altimo appropriated the 13.8 percent stake - a controlling position due to Turkcell’s complex ownership structure - when Cukurova defaulted on a $1.35 billion loan.
The British Privy Council ruled last July that Cukurova, owned by one of Turkey’s richest men Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, must pay around $1.6 billion - a sum which includes interest payments - to Altimo within 60 days if it wants to recover the stake.
It subsequently extended the deadline, most recently to June 24, and on Wednesday delayed it by another month.
Cukurova is registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is why the case is being dealt with by Britain’s Privy Council - final court of appeal for some countries in the Commonwealth, a grouping of countries which are mostly former territories of the British Empire. (Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall and David Holmes)