Turkey’s Cukurova Holding has said it will repay an outstanding debt of USD1.35 billion to Russia’s Alfa Group before the original maturity of the loan expires, news agency Ihlas reports. Alfa had called on Cukurova to repay the debt earlier this week. Alfa had earlier said it had applied to a British Virgin Islands court to seize Cukurova’s stake in Turkcell, Turkey’s leading mobile operator, whilst Cukurova previously said Alfa had no right to demand payment before 25 November. In March 2005 debt-laden Cukurova agreed to sell all its shares in Turkcell to TeliaSonera, another shareholder in Turkcell, for USD3.1 billion, but Altimo, Alfa Group’s mobile arm, offered to lend Cukurova USD1.7 billion in loans and in return took a 13.22% stake in Turkcell. As a result, Cukurova canceled its agreement with TeliaSonera and signed a new agreement with Alfa.
Cukurova’s decision to offer shares to Alfa Group in 2005 sparked legal action by TeliaSonera. In late January 2007 an international arbitration court ruled in TeliaSonera’s favour, ordering Cukurova to annul the Alfa sale and offer the shares to TeliaSonera for USD3.1 billion. Such a move would see TeliaSonera increase its direct and indirect stake in Turkcell to around 64%.