16 August 2016
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Two senior executives have left Türk Telekom after being swept up in the mass arrests authorised by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he overcame the attempted coup on 15 July. Others are reported to have been sacked.
The two Türk Telekom executives who have left have been
named as Erkan Akdemir, the CEO of the consumer business, and
Coşkun Şahin, the CTO. The CEO of Türk Telekom,
Rami Aslan, has taken over the consumer CEO role and will look
after the technology role until a new CTO is appointed.
Aslan said: "On behalf of Turk Telekom, we would like to thank
Erkan Akdemir and Coşkun Şahin for their invaluable
efforts and contributions that lead to great achievements
throughout the customer-oriented integration and transformation
efforts of our group companies."
But the official company statement make no reference to the
circumstances behind their departures, simply saying they had
"served notice to leave their positions at Türk Telekom
Türk Telekom did not respond to requests to a number of
executives for further comment and more details about the
background. Capacity also asked Coşkun Şahin for
comment via his LinkedIn account, and he simply said: "Thanks,
I am very well now" and said he had "nothing [to add] for
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said the executives were
summoned by prosecutors to give testimony in connection with
the failed coup attempt, and the newspaper linked that directly
to their departure, but said no more about the
The paper also said that Türk Telekom – which is
30% state owned – had sacked 290 people.
Türk Telekom is not alone: Hurriyet has also reported that
44 companies have had their premises raided by police bearing
warrants to detain 120 company executives. According to the
newspaper, 35,000 people have been detained since the coup
attempt, of whom nearly half have been formally arrested.
The Erdoğan government apparently believes the attempted
military coup was inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a preacher
based in the US who denies the accusation. A state-run news
agency says the police action is against companies that are
accused of giving financial support.
Meanwhile rival operator Turkcell appears not to have been
affected by the crackdown.
Both companies have powerful – but very different
– shareholders. Türk Telekom is 55% owned by a
private construction company, Saudi Oger, based in Riyadh. The
15% balance of shares – after the 30% government stake
– are quoted on the Istanbul Stock Exchange.
Turkcell was the first Turkish company to be quoted on the New
York Stock Exchange, and shares are also quoted on the Istanbul
exchange. Russian investor Mikhail Fridman owns 13.2% via his
LetterOne investment vehicle and Turkish industrial group
Çukurova owns 13.8%. Those two shareholders have been in
dispute for many years and on 1 August a London arbitration
court decided that Çukurova should buy its
rival’s shares for $2.7 billion or sell its shares
in Turkcell to Çukurova for $2.8 billion within 60
Capacity has also asked Vodafone, which is also a significant
operator in Turkey, whether it has been affected.
At the same time Hurriyet has reported that the Erdoğan
government has closed down Telekomunikasyon Iletisim Baskanligi
(TİB), the country’s internet regulation
authority, and merged it with the Information Technology and
Communications Authority (BTK), of which it was a