Russian conglomerate Alfa Group says it is ready to sell its 13.22% indirect stake in mobile operator Turkcell to Turkey’s Cukurova and Ziraat Bank for a total of around USD2.7 billion, Reuters reports, citing a statement to the Istanbul bourse. The move forms part of a long-running battle between Alfa and equity partner Cukurova for the ownership of Turkcell; previously, in 2014 an international arbitrator ordered Alfa to return a separate 13.76% stake to Cukurova in return for USD1.56 billion. Cukurova financed the purchase with a loan from state-owned Turkish lender Ziraat Bank, which it has yet to repay, and the 13.76% stake is still held by Ziraat Bank as collateral.
In a surprising development, Alfa says it is now willing to sell 49 class-A shares in Cukurova Telecom Holdings Limited for USD54.9 million per share, equivalent to 13.22% of Turkcell. Reuters cities two sources close to the dispute as saying that the court battle was expected to be concluded in the coming weeks, and that Alfa’s announcement appeared to be a strategic move. With Alfa putting pressure on Cukurova, the Turkish company must now find the funds to buy the additional stake and gain control or Turkcell, or concede defeat, the sources noted.
Since October 2013, Alfa Group’s 13.22% stake in Turkcell has been held by LetterOne Holdings, a Luxembourg based investment vehicle.