turk-internet.com: This week, we heard that TeliaSonera and the other major shareholders finally have reached an agreement in MegaFon. Congratulations for the resolution of the long standing dispute. How will this effect TeliaSonera’s position in Turkcell? Since Altimo sold all its shares in MegaFon and the long standing dispute is over, some newspapers are claiming that TeliaSonera and Altimo will work more efficiently and more effectively on resolving the dispute in Turkcell. What is your position right now?
Cecillia Edstrm: The Megafon transaction doesnt have any direct impact on Turkcell. However, it means that we, together with Altimo can now focus all our joint attention on resolving the legal and ownership disputes in Turkcell. It also means that the holding company structure we previously contemplated is no longer needed.
turk-internet.com: MegaFon deal represents more than the resolution of a dispute. I personally remember that while you were in Turkey for a meeting with the press (it was held at Princess Hotel on 30th of March 2011), one of the press members asked you if Telia may consider selling its shares in Turkcell. You told the press members that TeliaSonera always considered its shares as a long term investment and would not consider to sell its shares (neither in Turkcell nor in MegaFon). But what happened finally in MegaFon is just the contrary. Has something changed in TeliaSonera’s strategy?
Cecillia Edstrm: Nothing has changed, we will still keep a long term strategic ownership in Megafon and get minority shareholder rights. With this transaction we have managed to gain liquidity, both through dividends and a future listing of the company, which is what we set out to achieve. With respect to Turkcell we are long term strategic owners as always.
turk-internet.com: I also watched TeliaSonera’s 2011 financial results presentation. Your CEO Mr Nyberg had a presentation and he underlined that Turkcell and MegaFon did not pay any shareholder dividends and this effected Telia negatively. Was that a reason for your compromise in MegaFon situation? (I should note that its claimed Telia and Altimo have been blocking the payment of shareholders dividend in order the press Cukurova into the corner. And in order to keep the pressure in Turkcell, it chose to resolve the dispute in MegaFon)
Cecillia Edstrm: Regarding Megafon, the fact that we receive dividends and have agreed on a long term dividend strategy was part of the puzzle when we agreed with the other shareholders. Dividends in Turkcell were blocked last year because the AGM could not be completed.
turk-internet.com: Can TeliaSonera (and may be Altimo) reach a similar resolution of the dispute with Cukurova? Have you ever contacted, or would you ever contact, Cukurova representatives for a similar negotiation ?
Cecillia Edstrm: We have been trying to negotiate with Cukurova for years, but they have never been interested in finding a solution to the problem that they first sold their stake to us and then to Altimo. Therefore, we agreed to join forces with Altimo in pursuing our legal claims.
turk-internet.com: What should we expect from the AGM? Do you think there will be any difference from the last year?
Cecillia Edstrm: We hope that an AGM can be held and that more independent members can be added to the board before the end of June, in line with CMB regulations.