MOSCOW, April 19 - RAPSI. The Federal Antimonopoly Service has asked the Moscow Commercial Court to impose interim measures on the shares of the Vimpelсom Ltd. telecommunications holding in its lawsuit against the Norwegian-based Telenor and Weather Investments II S.a.r.l.
The watchdog has asked the court to ban VimpelCom Ltd. and VimpelCom Holdings from voting with their shares in VimpelCom. It also wants the court to prohibit Telenor and Weather from reshuffling VimpelCom's board of directors and to freeze an option agreement between the shareholders.
The antimonopoly service earlier filed a lawsuit against the stock purchase deal with Telenor and Weather Investments II S.a.r.l. owned by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris.
In February, Telenor paid $374 million to Weather Investments to acquire 234 million privileged shares in VimpelCom Ltd.
Telenor also reported in April that it purchased VimpelCom Ltd. ADRs from the U.S. JP Morgan Securities for $715 million, thereby accumulating a 39.51 percent stake in the mobile operator.
As a result, Telenor increased its voting shares in VimpelCom Ltd., the parent company of the VimpelCom mobile telephony operator, to 36.36 percent from 25.01 percent, while the number of dividend-paying stocks owned by Telenor rose to 35.66 percent from 31.666 percent.
VimpelCom, VimpelCom Ltd. and Altimo are third parties to the case.
Telenor reported that, according to the watchdog, the stock and option purchase deal between Telenor and Weather Investments on February 15, 2012 violates Russian law on foreign investments in strategic companies and thereby seeks to declare the deal invalid. The antimonopoly service also seeks to order Telenor to return the shares to Weather Investments and sign a new shareholders agreement with VimpelCom and Altimo on the same conditions as before.
VimpelCom is one of Russia's largest integrated telecommunications services operators, offering wireless, fixed and broadband services. Its sole shareholder is VimpelCom Ltd.