Çukurova ‘may secure fund from a local firm’

Çukurova ‘may secure fund from a local firm’

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Çukurova ‘may secure fund from a local firm’

Çukurova is in talks to get financing from a local company, some sources claim.

Çukurova Holding is close to securing financing from a local partner to recover a disputed stake in the country’s biggest mobile phone operator Turkcell, three sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Çukurova and Altimo, the telecoms investment arm of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, have been fighting for 7 years for control of Turkcell, choking decision-making at the firm
and preventing the payment of dividends.

The Turkish government is keen for Turkcell to remain in Turkish hands and has been pushing for a local corporate partner to help Çukurova raise the $1.6 billion it has been ordered to pay to recover the stake, the sources said.

“Both Çukurova and Turkey will be unhappy if Çukurova fails to get the stake back. It’s unavoidable for a new player to be involved. This will be acceptable to both Çukurova and the Turkish government,” one of the sources said.

“The government does not want to be dealing with a financial creditor. There will be a strategic creditor involved ... Çukurova would not have to put additional owners’ equity in this financing package,” the source said.

Two of the three sources said Çukurova would obtain financing from Turkish conglomerate Yıldız Holding, but Turkey’s largest food group declined to comment.

Çukurova said June 11 it was in talks with undisclosed institutions to arrange financing to pay
Alfa. One of the sources said the financing deal was expected to be concluded next week.

Britain’s Privy Council ruled last July that Çukurova, 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. Altimo appropriated the 13.8 percent stake - a controlling stake due to Turkcell’s complex ownership structure - when Çukurova defaulted on a $1.35 billion loan.

“The Turkish government has been looking into this very closely. They’ve almost found a solution for the stake to remain in Turkey,” the third source close to the matter said.

Çukurova is registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is why the case is being dealt with by Britain’s Privy Council, the final court of appeal for some countries in the Commonwealth, a grouping of countries which are mostly former territories of the British Empire.