Turk Telekom ownership transfer to banks approved by telecoms regulator

21 Aug 2018

The transfer of a majority stake in Turk Telekom (TT) to a group of creditor banks via a special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been approved by Turkey’s telecoms regulator the Information & Communication Technologies Authority (Bilgi Teknolojileri ve Iletisim Kurumu, BTK), TT confirmed in a regulatory disclosure posted on its website on 17 August 2018. The statement added that BTK had concluded that the share transfer will have ‘no adverse consequences’ regarding the national fixed line incumbent’s wholly-owned broadband, mobile and international telecoms operating subsidiaries.

Last month the creditor group led by Turkish banks Akbank, Garanti Bank and Isbank also applied to Turkey’s Competition Authority to take over TT’s 55% controlling stake – currently held by Ojer Telekomunikasyon AS (OTAS) – via the SPV. The move is part of a state-endorsed debt restructuring deal. In January the private banking trio – three of OTAS’ largest creditors – agreed on a plan to slice up the 55% stake between a total of 29 banks forming the SPV, with a view to eventually reselling the shares.

OTAS is a Turkish holding company currently owned by Dubai-based consortium Oger Telecom, itself controlled by Lebanon’s Hariri family (47.3% via Saudi Oger), Saudi Telecom Company (STC, 35.0%) and others (17.7%). The Turkish government retains a 25% direct stake in TT plus a ‘golden’ voting share.

In other news, Reuters reported that TT has inked a smartphone cooperation deal with Turkish manufacturer Vestel after President Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to use locally-made mobile handsets instead of US-based Apple’s iPhone, as diplomatic relations between the two countries worsen.