Bloomberg News

Turkcell Meeting Delayed on Dispute Among Owners; Shares Decline

June 26, 2012

A Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS (TCELL) shareholders meeting was postponed when two of the three main owners failed to reach agreement over board members and dividend payments. Shares in the company, Turkey’s biggest mobile phone operator, reversed gains.

Russia’s Altimo and Turkey’s Cukurova Holding AS failed to agree on how many voting members there should be on the board, Altimo executive Mustafa Kiral told reporters in Istanbul today. They also disagreed over dividend payouts from 2010 and 2011 earnings, and the candidates for independent board seats required by Turkish regulators, he said. Altimo is a unit of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group.

Turkcell shares were unchanged from yesterday’s close at 8.72 liras as of 4:40 p.m. today. They had gained as much as 1.8 percent before the postponement was announced.

Cukurova, Alfa and Sweden’s TeliaSonera AB (TLSN) have been fighting a three-cornered battle for control of Turkcell for almost a decade. While TeliaSonera is the largest shareholder, Cukurova has sought to retain control via a complex ownership structure even as its stake has declined.

TeliaSonera confirmed in an e-mailed statement that the shareholder meeting was postponed due to a disagreement between its two partners.

Alfa, which owns 13.2 percent of Turkcell, is suing Cukurova over an alleged loan default and seeking to seize its Turkcell shares, which were pledged as collateral. That would increase Alfa’s stake to 27 percent. The Privy Council in London will make a final ruling on the case in December, Kiral said.

Turkcell currently has seven board members. Cukurova wants the new board to include seven decision-making members out of the full count of nine, which would mean “Turkcell can’t make a decision, practically,” Kiral said. He also said that Cukurova has opposed payment of a 2010 dividend.

Cukurova declined to comment initially, saying it will make a statement on the issue later today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net.


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