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UPDATE 1-Saudi Telecom asks banks for more time in Turk Telekom debt talks -sources
October 2, 2017 / 3:58 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi Telecom asks banks for more time in Turk Telekom debt talks -sources

(Adds details, background on loan)

By Orhan Coskun and Ebru Tuncay

ANKARA, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has asked banks to extend a payment deadline in debt talks related to Turk Telekom, the Turkish fixed-line telecoms company in which STC is interested in buying a stake, sources close to the matter said.

Saudi Telecom’s request was made on behalf of Turk Telekom’s parent, Oger Telecom, in which STC has a 35 percent holding, three sources familiar with the situation said.

The request to extend a payment deadline on Oger’s $4.75 loan came as Dubai-based Oger Telecom missed its third straight repayment, one of the sources said. Oger missed similar payments in September 2016 and March 2017.

The request is now under consideration by Oger’s creditors and the Turkish Treasury, the three sources said, who declined to be identified because the information is not yet public.

Reuters could not immediately verify whether STC requested more time for Oger to repay all of its late instalments or just part of the amount.

STC declined to comment. No one was immediately available to comment at Oger’s offices in Turkey. Officials at Turkey’s Prime Ministry, Transport Ministry and Treasury were not available for comment.

Reuters reported in August that STC was in the lead to buy Oger’s 55 percent holding in Turk Telekom.

LOAN, LIRA

Oger’s problems stem from its $4.75 billion syndicated loan, which it took on in 2013 as part of a debt refinancing. It has since struggled to repay the loan as the tumbling Turkish lira has increased the cost of servicing its debt.

Oger’s roughly 30 creditor banks include Turkey’s Akbank and Garanti, as well as Isbank, Turkey’s largest listed lender. The government, which ultimately holds nearly 32 percent of Turk Telekom, wants the operator of the national telecoms grid to be owned by a financially stable company.

Sources told Reuters in August that the government could acquire Oger’s Turk Telekom stake - which is currently worth around $3.7 billion - if talks with STC fell through.

Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul and Reem Shamseddine in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Dominic Evans and Jane Merriman

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