Telia Company of Sweden yesterday (16 June 2020) confirmed that it is in discussions on the potential divestment of its stake in Turkish mobile market leader Turkcell to Turkey Wealth Fund (TWF) for a price of approximately USD530 million. Telia’s statement added that negotiations were at ‘an advanced stage’ but no agreement had yet been reached.
Telia Company owns 47.1% of local holding company Turkcell Holding, which owns 51.0% of Turkcell, giving the Swedish group an effective 24.0% interest in the mobile operator. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Turkcell’s other main shareholders are: Cukurova Group (13.8%, run by Turkcell’s founder Mehmet Emin Karamehmet) and LetterOne (13.2%, a Luxembourg-registered company controlled by Russia’s Mikhail Fridman), with the remaining 49.0% in free float. The three leading shareholders have been locked in disputes and arbitration over their respective holdings in Turkcell since 2005 (with Turkcell Holding majority-owned by a joint venture of Cukurova and LetterOne).
Sovereign wealth fund TWF, established in August 2016, owns 100% of Turkish satellite and cable broadband network operator Turksat, and a minority stake in national fixed and mobile operator Turk Telekom (with 5% of the telco’s equity allocated to the fund, currently holding 6.7% including free-float shares). TWF’s wider portfolio includes 20 companies such as Turkish Airlines, several banks, Turkish Petroleum, TWF Mining, TWF Energy and national post service PTT.