A court in the Caribbean has ruled that Russia’s Alfa Group does have a claim on a stake in Turkcell, Turkey’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, which is currently held by Cukurova. The Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean Islands has upheld Alfa’s appeal against an earlier decision by the British Virgin Islands Court which ruled in favour of Cukurova. Alfa claims that Cukurova defaulted on part of a USD1.7 billion loan which was secured with shares in Cukurova Telecom Holdings (CTH), a firm which owns 51% of Turkcell Holdings which in turn has a 51% interest in Turkcell. Cukurova has argued, however, that Alfa does not have any rights over the CTH shares. Alfa must now begin a legal process to prove that Cukurova did indeed default on the terms of its loan with Alfa, which was taken out in 2005.
Cukurova says it intends to launch an immediate appeal against the latest ruling. It offloaded its remaining 4.1% direct stake in Turkcell last week, with JP Morgan Securities paying TRY9.60 (USD7.41) per share for the 90.2 million shares. Turkcell had 35.4 million subscribers and a 57.6% of the Turkish mobile market at the end of December, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database.