Turkcell shareholders warn against Cukurova stake repurchase

Turkcell shareholders have warned the industry of further dispute if Turkish group Cukurova continues its pursuit to repurchase a stake in the operator.

Mikhail Fridman, of Turkcell’s Russian shareholder Alfa Group, and Mehmet Karamehmet – head of Cukurova and one of Turkey’s richest men – have long been at loggerheads for the controlling stake in Turkey’s number one mobile operator.

According to Reuters, the dispute has been obstructing decision-making and preventing the payment of dividends. This week, Alfa Group said that this will continue if Cukurova does not back down.

Alexei Reznikovich, Alfa’s telecoms asset manager, told reporters that its previous configuration – of Alfa, Cukurova and TeliaSonera (which is now co-operating with Alfa Group) – made it very difficult to make decisions and resulted in a string of unfortunate events.

If Cukurova buys the shares, then the status quo will remain. It will be much harder than if Cukurova leaves the scene and we stay with Telia,” Reznikovich said. “Then the corporate governance issues will be resolved, while in such a triangle, I do not understand how they will be resolved.”

Alfa Group wants to remain in the Turkish market and Reznikovich said the company was also looking at billion-dollar telecoms deals in Europe, as well as smaller deals in the US.

“The Turkish market is interesting for us and we will be there as long as we believe that we have an opportunity to somehow gain a foothold and develop,” Reznikovich said. “If at some point we realise that there is no such possibility, we will leave pragmatically.”

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