Turkcell shares suspended as boardroom challenge fails

Plans tabled by TeliaSonera to oust the chairman of Turkey's largest mobile operator, Turkcell, have failed, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report, and Turkcell's shares were suspended in Istanbul.

TeliaSonera, which holds 37 per cent of Turkcell, had requested at the company's annual general meeting that Turkcell's chairman, Colin Williams, be removed for not acting in an independent manner. Another major shareholder, Russia's Altimo, is also thought to have backed the plan to oust Williams, who was alleged to have been favouring Cukurova Holding, Turkcell's controlling shareholder.

According to a report carried by Dow Jones, initial confidence in the motion to unseat Williams had drained away prior to last week's annual meeting, with Cukurova thought to have gained local political support for keeping Williams as chairman.

The background to this boardroom infighting is seen as further evidence that the battle for control of Turkcell (with TeliaSonera and Altimo against Cukurova) has reached another phase. The disruption at the meeting caused by this bitter conflict also lead to Turkcell's 2010 dividend payment and company accounts not being approved.

Prior to the AGM, Turkish newspapers were reporting that TeliaSonera CEO Lars Nyberg had contacted the Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, asking for his support in the dispute. The Swedish telco has also started legal action against a number of Turkish newspapers and journalists, alleging that the tone of their articles, that Turkcell should remain in Turkish hands, is a violation of TeliaSonera's rights.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswire article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Hurriyet Daily News article

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