Altimo may takeover stake in Turkcell, UK court rules
Pedestrians walk past a Turkcell store in Centralc Istanbul inc this file photo. The counrty’s largest mobile phone operator by market share is experiencing a hard dispute over its board. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKBritish court ruled yesterday that Russia’s Altimo had been entitled to appropriate shares in Turkcell from Turkey’s Cukurova over a defaulted loan, but said Cukurova should be compensated and that it could not yet give an amount.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council said it had asked the parties for more information and would make a further decision at an unspecified date, which would deal with the terms upon which compensation will be granted to Cukurova.
Çukurova, a holding company controlled Turkish tycoon Mehmet Emin Keremehmet, is registered in the British Virgin Islands which is why the case is being dealt with by the Privy Council.
It is the final court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries, including the British Virgin Islands.
However, Turkey’s sectord regulator said yesterday that it held the right to make the final decision over a share transfer in Turkcell.
In its complex 36-page ruling, the court rejected Cukurova’s argument that it had not defaulted on the $1.35 billion loan from Altimo in the first place. The court said an event of default had in fact taken place.
Final verdict yet to come
It said that Altimo had been entitled to accelerate the loan and appropriate the Turkcell shares, but that relief against forfeiture should be available to Çukurova on appropriate conditions.
The court said it had sent the parties a list of points that needed to be clarified before it could make a final decision on the amount or terms of compensation. It did not say when it expected to give its final decision on the case.
The dispute centers around a loan taken out in 2005 by Cukurova from Altimo, which indirectly holds 13.2 percent of Turkcell. Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera holds 37 percent of Turkcell while the remaining 34 percent is largely free float.
Çukurova put its stake in Turkcell up as collateral for the loan and the argument hinges on whether that loan fell into default. Altimo says Cukurova failed to pay in time, while Cukurova maintains Altimo blocked its repayment. “We are satisfied with the decision of the Privy Council which has confirmed Altimo’s position that Çukurova has committed a number of events of default under the loan arrangements with Altimo and look forward to final completion of the dispute which has been damaging to Turkcell for a long time,” Evgeny Dumalkin, Vice President of Altimo, said in a press release “The court also rejected Çukurova’s claims that Altimo acted in bad faith in relationship to Çukurova,” he said.