Regulator contests Telenor's share increase in VimpelCom Ltd
MOSCOW, April 25 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court will hear on October 17 the antitrust watchdog’s lawsuit challenging the purchase of 234 million preferred shares in VimpelCom Ltd by Norway’s Telenor.
The transaction has increased Telenor’s voting interest in VimpelCom Ltd., parent of Beeline mobile services operator, from 25.01 to 36.36 percent while the number of dividend-paying stocks held by Telenor rose from 31.666 to 35.66 percent.
The lawsuit filed on April 17 was brought against Telenor and Weather Investments II S.a.r.l., while VimpelCom, VimpelCom Ltd. and Altimo will act as third parties.
In a previous statement Telenor said that the regulator had sought a court injunction on Vimpelcom Ltd. stock. It wants the court to prohibit Vimpelcom and VimpelCom Holdings from voting with its VimpelCom shares and its shareholders Telenor and Weather from changing the Board of Directors membership. Additionally it would like the court to freeze the shareholders’ option agreement.
According to the court records, it has issued an enforcement order as an interim relief.
Telenor said the watchdog declared the stock and option purchase deal between Telenor and Weather Investments on February 15, 2012 in breach of the law on foreign investments in strategic companies and seeks to quash the purchase. The antimonopoly service also wants Telenor to return the shares to Weather Investments and sign a new shareholders agreement with VimpelCom and Altimo according to the previous terms.
In April Telenor reported that it had purchased VimpelCom Ltd. ADRs from U.S. JP Morgan Securities for $715 million, thereby accumulating a 39.51 percent stake in the mobile operator.