TeliaSonera, Altimo merge Turkish, Russian assets

Nordic operator TeliaSonera and Russian conglomerate Altimo (formerly known as the Alfa Group) were playing happy families this week, agreeing to combine their telecoms assets in Turkey and Russia.

The move will end years of corporate disputes over ownership of the assets, and will see the two firms pool their interests in Turkcell and MegaFon into a new company.

According to the two firms, the deal will create an international operator with over 90 million subscribers in Russia, Turkey and the CIS countries. But the agreement also serves to simplify ownership of the Turkish and Russian carriers and avoid further bickering between TeliaSonera and Altimo.

The new company will own a majority of the shares in both Turkcell and Megafon. AF Telecom, the third major shareholder in Megafon, is also invited to join the partnership. Provided AF Telecom joins, TeliaSonera and the Russian investors will have similar ownership and equal influence over the new company.

None of the major shareholders will be able to acquire control over the new company other than by consent of the other major shareholders. The board will include independent board members, who will be able to resolve any deadlocks, if board members nominated by one of the major shareholders have a different opinion to the others.

The ownership of Turkcell has been subject to legal disputes since the former controlling shareholder, Çukurova, effectively sold the same interest twice, first to TeliaSonera and then to Altimo.

TeliaSonera and Altimo have agreed to collaborate to resolve all legal disputes between them and Çukurova Group, with the intention that Altimo acquires Çukurova Group’s indirect shareholding in Turkcell and contributes those shares to the new company without any premium.

Last month Telenor and Altimo ended years of legal disputes with a plan to combine their common assets in Russia and Ukraine. The two companies have reached an agreement to combine their holdings in second-placed Russian operator VimpelCom and Ukrainian player Kyivstar into a new jointly-owned mobile telecoms operator, VimpelCom Ltd.

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