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TeliaSonera : Chances of success are slim

The chief executive of Swedish-Finnish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera, locked in a legal struggle to gain control of Turkcell, said on Wednesday the chances of success were slim.

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 said he was not hopeful.

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

TeliaSonera would 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, Igel said.

The downbeat comments come 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 honor an agreement to sell a key Turkcell stake to the Nordic company, dealing with Alfa instead.

TeliaSonera announced in March it would pay Cukurova $3.1 billion (2.5 billion euros) for 27 percent of Turkcell, taking its total holding to 64.3 percent.

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

Alfa on Monday announced it had completed the purchase of 13.22 percent in Turkcell from Cukurova via the purchase of convertible bonds for $1.593 billion.

TeliaSonera has argued it should have been offered the Turkcell stake first because it had the right of first refusal. Turkcell is the first Turkish firm to be listed on Wall Street.

Marseille,12 05 2005
Redaction
The Daily Star
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