BVI court rules in TeliaSonera’s favour in Turkcell ownership dispute

9 Mar 2016

A British Virgin Islands (BVI) court has issued a judgment granting TeliaSonera’s application in regards to the acquisition of shares in Turkcell Holding, which holds a stake in Turkish mobile operator Turkcell. TeliaSonera said in a press release that the judgment was made in proceedings to enforce an arbitral decision from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Geneva, which ordered Cukurova Group to pay TeliaSonera the amount of USD932 million in damages in September 2011. The dispute dates back to 2005, when Cukurova agreed to sell its 52.91% stake in Turkcell Holding to the Swedish group. The deal, however, collapsed and in 2007 Cukurova secured a USD1.35 billion loan from Russian conglomerate Alfa (now LetterOne) using its 13.76% indirect stake in Turkcell as collateral. The ownership of the 13.76% indirect stake is now subject to another ongoing legal battle, following Cukurova’s default on the loan.

TeleGeography notes that Turkcell is owned by Turkcell Holding (51.00% stake), TeliaSonera (14.02%), Cukurova Holding (0.05%), with the remaining 34.93% of shares publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Istanbul Menkul Kiymetler Borsasi (IMKB). Turkcell Holding is itself owned by TeliaSonera (47.09%, giving it a 37.09% overall stake in Turkcell) and Cukurova Holding (52.91%, for a 26.98% overall interest). Cukurova Holding is majority controlled by the Turkish Cukurova Group (51%, or a 13.76% overall stake in Turkcell), with 18.5% held by LetterOne (4.99% overall stake in Turkcell).

TeliaSonera said that the BVI court judgment ‘represents one step of many in a long-running series of disputes in relation to the ownership of Turkcell’. The ruling is to be followed by a final sale order, which may be subject to an appeal by Cukurova, though TeliaSonera noted that the judgment ‘does not resolve the existing and complex dead-lock between the shareholders of Turkcell’. In the event that a sale of the shares takes place, LetterOne is entitled to receive part of the amount collected by TeliaSonera, in accordance with an agreement from 2009.

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