TeliaSonera chief doubtful over Turkcell

Anders Igel, the chief executive of Swedish-Finnish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera, which is locked in a legal struggle to gain control of Turkish operator Turkcell, has said its chances of success are now slim, reported Dagens Nyheter.

TeliaSonera is suing both Turkcell’s shareholder Cukurova and Russian operator Alfa Group for allegedly wrongfully thwarting its rights to a majority stake in Turkey’s biggest operator, but chief executive Anders Igel admitted he was not hopeful.

“The chances (of buying Turkcell) are slim today,” he said in an interview with Dagens Nyheter.

Despite this Igel said TeliaSonera will still continue its legal efforts because “the most important thing for us is to defend our position” and “there is still a possibility” of success.

The downbeat comments come only days after TeliaSonera stepped up its fight for Turkcell by suing Russia’s Alfa Group for alleged wrongful interference with its efforts.

TeliaSonera had already sued Turkcell’s majority owner, Cukurova, which it accuses of failing to honour an agreement to sell a key Turkcell stake to the Nordic company, dealing with Alfa instead.

TeliaSonera announced in March that it would pay Cukurova 3.1 billion dollars for 27% of Turkcell, taking its total holding to 64.3%.

But two months later, Cukurova suddenly declined to sign the final deal and said it was looking instead at options that would not change control of Turkcell.

As a result, Alfa on Monday announced it had completed the purchase of 13.22% in Turkcell from Cukurova via the purchase of convertible bonds for 1.593 billion dollars.

TeliaSonera has argued it should have been offered the Turkcell stake first because it had the right of first refusal.

Turkcell, which has some 25 million subscribers, is the first Turkish company to be listed on Wall Street.