A group of banks are set to take majority control of Turk Telekom (TT) next month in a debt restructuring deal, according to banking sources cited by Reuters. As reported in January, the three largest creditors of TT’s parent company Ojer Telekomunikasyon AS (OTAS) – Akbank, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi (Garanti Bank) and Turkiye Is Bankasi (Isbank) – agreed on preliminary proposals approved by Turkey’s government to take over OTAS’ 55% stake in the telco. A coordinating committee of lenders has now finalised a restructuring plan, which is being presented to the wider lender group this week for approval with the aim of implementing the deal in June, according to the anonymous sources. The plan sees OTAS’ ownership being sliced up between all 29 creditor banks via a specially created holding company, with a view to eventually reselling the majority TT stake.
OTAS borrowed USD4.75 billion in 2013, secured on TT shares and underwritten/arranged by Akbank, Garanti Bank, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, before a further 23 banks joined in syndication. OTAS struggled to repay debts, however, largely due to depreciation of the Turkish lira, and after defaulting on three instalments since September 2016, its creditors sought a takeover plan agreeable to the government – which retains a 25% direct stake in TT plus a ‘golden’ voting share.
OTAS is a Turkish holding company currently owned by Dubai-based consortium Oger Telecom, itself controlled by Lebanon’s Hariri family (47.3% via Saudi Oger), Saudi Telecom Company (STC, 35.0%) and others (17.7%).