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Türkiye Wealth Fund to sell a part of Turkcell's shares?
 10 Jul 2024
Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly weighing whether to sell its 26.2% stake in Turkcell, the country’s biggest telecommunications operator, according to a report Monday citing people familiar with the matter, Sabah Daily writes with reference to various news agencies.

The board of Türkiye Wealth Fund (TWF) has yet to make a formal decision, the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are private.

While informal discussions with potential buyers have taken place, some within the sovereign wealth fund are opposed to a sale because they consider the company a strategic asset, one of the people said, according to a Bloomberg report.

A final decision would likely be made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who leads the fund’s board, the report said.

It also indicated that investors from the Arabian Peninsula and Azerbaijan have expressed interest in purchasing a stake in the company. The fund has approached at least one investment bank about advising on a potential sale but has not issued a formal mandate, some of the people said.

Both TWF and Turkcell declined to comment.

Turkcell shares rose as much as 5.4% to TL 111.7 ($3.41) after the report, the highest level since the company’s IPO in 2000. The stock has risen more than 50% in dollar terms since TWF acquired the stake in 2020, giving the company a $7.3 billion market capitalization.

LetterOne Investment Holdings, an investment firm founded by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, has a 19.8% stake. The rest of the shares are traded on Borsa Istanbul and as depository receipts on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

When TWF bought the stake, it became both the largest shareholder and gained the right to appoint five of the nine members of Turkcell’s board of directors. Bloomberg's report coincides with the company celebrating 30 years of its founding and 24 years of its presence at NYSE.

The stock exchange rang its closing bell for Turkcell on Monday, marking its nearly quarter of the century on the NYSE. Top Turkcell officials were in New York for the occasion, with Turkcell CEO Ali Taha Koç reflecting on the firm's transformative journey in the past three decades.

On occasion, Koç emphasized that Turkcell is no longer just a "telecommunications operator," pointing out that the company is involved in many areas, from being an internet provider to digital payment systems, digital publishing, mobile messaging applications, digital music platforms to its involvement in data center and cloud technologies.

Turkcell’s main competitors domestically are Türk Telekomunikasyon A.Ş. (Türk Telekom) and Vodafone Group Plc.

The Turkish government established the sovereign fund in 2016 and mandated it to play a major role in making investments deemed too big for the private sector. It holds several assets taken over from the Treasury, including stakes in state lenders Halkbank and Ziraat Bank. It also owns stakes in Turkish Airlines (THY) and the local stock exchange.

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