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British Monarch to Decide Fate of Turkish Mobile Network

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is about to rule on a dispute that could decide the fate of a Turkish mobile network.

The dispute between the Turkish businessman, Mehmet Karamehmet and Russia's Mikhail Fridman dates back to 2005 when Karamehmet's Cukurova company took out a secured loan from Fridman's Alfa Group.

In 2007, following a number of alleged defaults by Cukurova Group, Alfa appropriated the shares representing the Cukurova's stake in the Turkish mobile network, Turkcell which Cukurova charged to Alfa as security for its outstanding loan of USD1.35 billion.

The loan was agreed to have legal jurisdiction in case of a dispute in the British Virgin Islands, and last year, the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled that Alfa validly appropriated shares held by Cukurova. The Court confirmed that Alfa "merely enforced its contractual rights in relying upon any act of defaults which did occur, calling the loan and appropriating."

Cukurova then appealed to the highest level left to it - which thanks to the post-colonial legislation, happens to be the British Monarch.

The Queen does not personally render judgement, but through the Privy Council, seeks advice from three Judges who make the final decision.

That decision is due to be given on Wednesday.

If the Privy Council upholds the earlier court ruling approving the seizure of the shares, then Altimo will have increased its holding in the Turkish mobile network by 13.7 percent to 26.9 percent. TeliaSonera owns 37 percent of Turkcell and has also been fighting Cukurova for control of the company.

The shareholder dispute has put the company into limbo for the past couple of years and barred the firm from paying dividends to its shareholders.

On the web: Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

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Tags: turkcell  Turkey