London court dismisses claims against Russian billionaire in Turkcell case
ISTANBUL/LONDONAn arbitration tribunal in London has dismissed Turkish holding company Çukurova’s claims against Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s investment vehicle Letter One, Fridman’s company said Aug. 1, representing a potential breakthrough in a decade-long ownership battle over mobile phone company Turkcell, Reuters has reported.
Fridman has been locked in a legal battle with equity partner Çukurova, run by Turkcell founder Mehmet Emin Karamehmet. The dispute prevented some dividends from being paid and hampered the company’s development.
In line with the court ruling, which was made on July 29, Çukurova is expected to sell its Turkcell stakes or purchase stakes currently held by Letter One, a part of Russia’s Alfa Telecom, in the next 60 days.
The final decision over the court ruling will be made in the next 14 days, Turkcell said in a written statement to the bourse on Aug. 1.
Sources close to the matter said it was too early to say whether Çukurova would sell its stakes in Turkcell or buy out Fridman.
A third of Turkcell’s shares are traded in Istanbul and New York. Nordic TeliaSonera AB is the biggest stakeholder with 38 percent stake in Turkcell, but Çukurova still controls the company through a complicated shareholder structure.
Alfa Telecom said on March 25 that it was ready to sell a 13.2 percent indirect stake in Turkcell to Çukurova and Ziraat Bank for a total of around $2.7 billion, according to a statement to the Istanbul bourse.
Alfa said it was willing to sell 49 class-A shares in Çukurova Telecom Holdings Limited (CTH) for $54.9 million per share, equivalent to 13.2 percent of Turkcell, in March.
The London Arbitration Court was reported to have completed its reviews in March over a dispute application in 2014 by Alfa Telecom in Turkcell.
The Çukurova Group inked a loan deal worth $1.6 billion with Ziraat Bank in 2014 in order to receive its pledged indirect share of Turkcell from the Alfa Group. The group gave a 13.76 percent stake in the lender as a deposit for the loan.