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Sweden's Telia In talks with Turkish sovereign wealth fund for Turkcell stake

[STOCKHOLM] Sweden's multinational telecommunications company Telia is in talks to sell all or part of its stake in Turkey's biggest mobile-phone carrier to the country's sovereign wealth fund, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Sweden's Telia and the Turkey Wealth Fund could announce a deal for Telia's 24 per cent indirect stake in Turkcell soon, the people said, asking to not be identified because the matter is confidential. Talks are ongoing and may not result in a deal, the people said.

Turkcell's founding partner Cukurova Holding holds a 13.8 per cent stake in the phone operator, which are pledged to Turkey's largest bank TC Ziraat Bankasi AS after it defaulted on a US$1.6 billion overdue loan from 2014. The wealth fund also owns Ziraat.

A spokesman for Telia said: "It's no secret that it's our ambition to exit Turkey," but declined to comment further. Representatives for the Turkey Wealth Fund, Turkcell and Cukurova all declined to comment. A spokesperson Ziraat Bank wasn't immediately available to comment.

Telia is the largest shareholder in Turkcell with an indirect shareholding through its minority interest in Turkcell Holding. Turkcell's shareholders have been locked in a long-running battle over control of the company, which halted dividend payouts as the board couldn't hold investor meetings. Cukurova is owned by Turkish businessman and one of Turkcell's founders Mehmet Emin Karamehmet. Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's LetterOne Investments also has a 13.2 per cent holding.

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