A royal mess? Turkcell dispute goes down to the wire as Privy Council wades in

30 Jan 2013

The Privy Council, one of Britain’s oldest institutions, whose members are appointed by the Queen, will today make its ruling on the long-running Turkcell ownership dispute between Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group and Cukurova Holding, which is controlled by Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, one of Turkey’s most powerful businessmen. Described by Reuters as ‘an arcane British appeals court’, the Privy Council is hearing the case because Cukurova Holding is registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The boardroom feud dates back to a loan taken out by Cukurova from Altimo back in 2005, and the dispute – which hinges on whether or not that loan fell into default – could see the Turkish holding company relinquish its 13.76% stake in Turkcell, which was originally put up as collateral. Should the Privy Council rule in Altimo’s favour, Turkcell would be left with no major Turkish shareholder.

Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom. Its membership is mostly made up of senior politicians who are (or have been) members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. The Council was formerly a supreme court of appeal for the entire British Empire (other than for the United Kingdom itself), and continues to hear appeals from the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, and a number of Commonwealth member countries.

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