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UPDATE 1-Turkey to reject Saudi request for Turk Telekom debt extension -sources
October 20, 2017 / 1:31 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Turkey to reject Saudi request for Turk Telekom debt extension -sources

(Add STC declining to comment, context on talks)

By Orhan Coskun and Ebru Tuncay

ANKARA/ISTANBUL, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Turkey’s Treasury will not grant a request from Saudi shareholders in Turk Telekom to extend a deadline in debt talks, two people familiar with the matter said.

The Treasury also plans to make appointments to the board and executive committee of Turk Telekom, the two sources said, as it seeks more control over the former state utility, whose top shareholder has been shaken by a debt crisis.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) made the request for a repayment extension after Turk Telekom’s majority shareholder, Oger Telecom, missed a third payment due on a $4.75 billion syndicated loan, Reuters reported this month.

STC owns 35 percent of Oger, making it an indirect shareholder in Turk Telekom. The Turkish government owns nearly 32 percent of Turk Telekom, operator of the country’s largest fixed-line network.

Reuters has not been able to verify whether STC had requested more time for Oger to pay all three overdue instalments or just part of the amount.

Turkey’s Treasury declined to comment, as did STC and Turk Telekom. No one was immediate available to comment at Oger’s offices in Turkey.

DEBT PROBLEMS

Oger’s problems stem from the $4.75 billion syndicated loan, which it took on in 2013 as part of a debt refinancing. It has struggled to repay the dollar-denominated debt due to the tumbling Turkish lira.

Oger’s creditor banks include Turkey’s Akbank and Garanti, as well as Isbank, Turkey’s largest listed lender.

It was not immediately clear whether the Treasury’s rejection of STC’s request would affect the Saudi firm’s broader interest in Turk Telekom.

Reuters reported in August that STC was in the lead to buy Oger’s 55 percent holding in Turk Telekom. Sources have previously said the government could itself acquire the Oger stake if talks on STC’s bid falls through. (Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by David Dolan, Greg Mahlich)

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