Saudi Telecom Company (STC) was tipped as the front runner in a bid to acquire a 55 per cent stake in Turk Telekom from troubled majority shareholder Oger Telecom, in a deal worth $3.9 billion.
Sources told Reuters STC is in the hotseat in terms of purchasing the holding, but noted Turkey’s government could step in if a deal between the companies does not work out.
Creditors are pressing Oger Telecom to sell to ease a financial crisis, which resulted in the company missing two instalments in the repayment of a $4.75 billion syndicated loan secured, in part, to refinance existing debt.
In January, STC was reported to be considering taking a direct stake in Oger Telecom. The company’s financial difficulties were blamed on the poor performance of the Turkish Lira, which lowered dividends the company received from its stake in Turk Telekom.
While other companies are also interested in the Turk Telekom stake, only STC entered into negotiations so far, showing “a clear interest in the acquisition,” a source told Reuters.
If the talks between the companies fail, Turkey’s government may use a public institution to acquire the holding.
“Turk Telekom is a strategic and important company. It will not be left to its fate for sure. Public institutions would intervene when needed and this option is still a matter of consideration,” another source told Reuters.
None of the parties have made any comment on the matter.
Oger’s parent company is Saudi Arabian construction giant Saudi Oger, which is also facing a multibillion-dollar debt restructuring.
Oger’s creditors want the sale to be completed by September to retain the loan’s classification as “performing” and avoid an increase in bad loan provisions.
Turkey’s treasury sent Oger a notice earlier this year after it failed to meet the two debt payments. In July the government asked some banks to find prospective buyers for the stake.