Ankara takes action to end stalemate at Turkcell

Turkey's markets regulator has taken action to end a gridlock at Turkcell that has prevented the mobile operator from releasing second-quarter earnings and making critical decisions about its strategy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Capital Markets Board appointed two board members to Turkcell, bringing the total number of board members appointed by the government to five after three were appointed in March.

Two empty seats still remain, and the regulator has now asked Turkcell's three leading shareholders--Turkey's Cukurova Holding AS, Moscow-based Alfa Group and TeliaSonera of Sweden--to nominate two people each for the remaining posts within 15 days.

"We thoroughly regret that it has gone this far," Salomon Bekele, a spokesman for TeliaSonera, told the Journal. "This solution suggests that the entire board should consist of independent members...Our understanding is that this is a temporary and emergency measure."

Bekele said TeliaSonera hopes that it will soon "reach a solution whereby we as a shareholder may influence the company in accordance with the size of our holding."

TeliaSonera, which owns 38 per cent of Turkcell, has been involved in a legal dispute with its fellow shareholders for the last six years over a stake that would determine whether Turkish billionaire Mehmet Emin Karamehmet's Cukurova, Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman of Alfa or the Swedish operator will control the mobile operator.

Turkcell is Turkey's leading mobile operator and a hugely important asset for the country. It is also believed that the Ankara government does not want to see ownership of the company move into foreign hands.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. rew.)
- see this FT article (sub. req.)

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