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Best managed companies in CEE 2013: An answer for Turkcell

As a struggle for control nears a resolution, Turkcell’s strong operational and financial performance should return to centre stage, along with the management team that has delivered it.

As far as battles for control of a company are concerned, the fight between the main shareholders of Turkey’s largest mobile phone operator has had a bit of everything in it. There is an international cast of powerful protagonists; a complex ownership structure that makes the Bosporus’s intricate web of shipping lanes look simple; a ruling by the UK Privy Council; and a last-gasp intervention by the Turkish authorities to resolve the dispute and prevent a strategic asset falling into foreign hands.

At the heart of the battle is one of Turkey’s richest men, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, who is fighting to keep control of the firm he co-founded. His Cukurova Holding, a family-owned conglomerate, is pitted against Turkcell’s two other big shareholders, TeliaSonera, a Nordic telecoms operator, and Altimo, a subsidiary of Alfa Group, a large Russian investment firm controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman.

The good news is that the intervention in March by the Capital Markets Board of Turkey, the securities regulator, seems to have finally forced the dispute towards a resolution.