TeliaSonera in new Turkcell legal fight

Swedish telecom firm TeliaSonera has opened legal action against the chairperson of Turkcell, a firm in which the firm has a 38 percent stake, over a dispute regarding the make up of the Turkish telecom operator's board.

TeliaSonera communications director, Cecilia Edström, argued that Turkcell chairperson Colin J Williams should leave his post before causing the firm any more damage.

“This is very serious because the chairperson is the only member of the board defined as independent,” Edström said in a company statement.

Edström argued that a move by Williams, together with the firm’s other main shareholder Cukurova, to block an increase in the number of independent board members in the company indicates a lack of impartiality.

“For us, this is a very clear sign that he is not independent and impartial in relation to one of the major shareholders,” she said, confirming that she was referring to Cukurova.

TeliaSonera maintains that Williams “clearly violated the law” by preventing the issue of board composition to be addressed at the company’s annual general meeting.

The Swedish-Finnish firm company now intends to sue Williams in Turkey and possibly also in the US, since Turkcell is listed there.

TeliaSonera has long been embroiled in a dispute regarding Cukurova’s stake in Turkcell.

At the heart of the dispute, which erupted in 2005, was a decision by Turkcell’s previous majority owner, Cukurova, to sell the same Turkcell ownership shares twice, first to TeliaSonera, and then to Altimo.

Edström argued that despite the long dispute, TeliaSonera has no plans to sell off its stake in Turkcell.

“Turkcell is a first-rate company with good profitability and high potential. Turkey is a large market, and ownership creates value for us and for our shareholders. So we want to stay.”

TeliaSonera has long argued that the number of independent directors on the board of Turkcell must be increased to meet the demands of both the US and Turkish financial services authorities.

TeliaSonera recently requested that the issue be addressed formally at the upcoming annual general meeting, but Turkcell’s board rejected the request.

The board’s position is reported to be in contravention of Turkish law which stipulates that a shareholder with more than 5 percent of the shares has a right to raise issues for discussion at the AGM.

TeliaSonera’s currently controls 38 percent of Turkcell.

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Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.

Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.

A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.