Altimo demands $1.4bn repayment

London-based telecoms investor Altimo has publicly demanded that Turkish investment group Cukorova Group repay a $1.4 billion loan, made at the time of its purchase of a stake in mobile operator Turkcell.

Telecom buyout specialist Altimo has gone public to demand that Turkish conglomerate Cukurova repay a $1.4 billion ($994 million) loan made at the time of the former’s acquisition of Turkcell in 2005.

Altimo bought a 13.22 percent stake in Turkcell, a Turkish mobile operator, from Cukurova in November 2005, with the Turkish group retaining a minority stake. As part of the deal, Altimo made a $1.7 billion loan to Cukurova, which it is apparently yet to repay.

Altimo said Cukurova repaid $357 million of the capital last November, and has made interest payments totalling $217 million, but the group has apparently started to breach its loan covenants, causing Altimo to think that it could default on the loan.

Altimo said in a statement: “Cukurova has repeatedly failed to comply with the agreements signed in 2005. Therefore, Altimo has to put in place measures to protect its position in relation to the outstanding loan.” It first requested immediate repayment of the loan in full on April 16.

Altimo, known as Alfa Telecom before it re-branded and moved to London last year, specialises in telecoms investments in Russia and Eastern Europe. In addition to Turkcell, its stakes include Russian mobile phone operators VimpelCom and MegaFon, and Sky Mobile, the largest mobile provider in Kyrgyzstan. It says its portfolio companies have 140 million mobile phone subscribers between them.

Cukurova Group is a Turkish conglomerate with interests in numerous industries including banking, telecoms, construction and information technology.