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By Ebru Tuncay and Can Sezer
ISTANBUL, March 15 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Turkey’s top mobile phone company, Kaan Terzioglu, stepped down on Friday after nearly four years atop Turkcell during which he sought to refocus it on more profitable digital businesses.
Confirming earlier reports by Reuters and other media, Turkcell’s board of directors said on Friday that Murat Erkan, the executive vice president for sales who originally joined the company in 2008, would serve as acting CEO.
The board praised the technology investments made under Terzioglu’s watch. One person close to the company told Reuters the board agreed on the move on Thursday.
Turkcell’s market capitalization was about $5.8 billion at market close on Thursday, the sixth biggest company listed on the Istanbul stock exchange. The stock was down 1.8 percent on Friday.
One analyst who declined to be named said Terzioglu, who became CEO in 2015, was well-regarded for his role reshaping the company’s strategy and guiding it beyond its core data and voice markets into value-added digital services.
“Investors know Terzioglu very well. They may sell (shares) on uncertainty until a new (permanent) executive is identified,” the analyst said.
In recent years Turkcell’s ownership has been the subject of a feud between three of its shareholders: Cukurova, owned by Turkcell founder Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Telecom and Sweden’s Telia.
Ahmet Akca, chairman of Turkcell’s board, said in a statement to the Istanbul bourse that in the last five years the company “established a strong foundation for growth through our investments into technology and our endeavors leading the industry in digital arena.”
Erkan, the acting CEO, before joining Turkcell served for a decade as an officer in charge of Cisco Systems’ technology, sales, business development and channel management. (Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)