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Altimo to Cukurova: We don’t want your money

Russian investor Altimo fired the latest broadside in its battle to control Turkish operator Turkcell on Thursday, when it turned down an offer from owners Cukurova to pay off a $1.3bn loan.

To recap, back in the autumn of 2005, Cukurova, a diversified Turkish industrial group in financial trouble, was keen to sell its stake in Turkcell. Swedish-Finnish operator TeliaSonera made an offer, which Cukurova accepted. Then, Alfa Telecom (as Altimo was then known) announced that Cukurova had accepted its offer of a large loan to stave off the creditors.

It was no act of charity – the terms of the loan provided that it was convertible into Turkcell stock. Cue anger, arbitrations, lawsuits and the like between TeliaSonera and Alfa, not for the first time.

To no one’s surprise, Cukurova has since failed to keep up payments on the Altimo loan, triggering the convertibility clause.

Now, however, Cukurova is reported to have found new financing. It claims to have a $1.4bn syndicated loan lined up with which it has offered to pay Altimo off in cash, rather than give up the Turkcell shares.

Altimo is deeply displeased and claims that Cukurova has no right to secure a loan on the shares, that this constitutes a default in itself.

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