MOSCOW, November 12 - RAPSI. The Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal filed by Telenor, Weather Investments, and VimpelCom challenging a preliminary injunction ordered by the Moscow Commercial Court in the Federal Antimonopoly Service's lawsuit to nullify a contract for the sale and purchase of VimpelCom shares between Telenor and Weather Investments, the court spokesperson told RAPSI.

In February, Telenor acquired shares in VimpelCom from Weather Investments and increased its voting stake in the holding company first from 25.01 percent to 36 percent, and then to 39.5 percent. Subsequently, the parties signed an option contract that allowed Telenor to increase its stake to 43 percent.

The government watchdog maintains that the stock and option purchase deal between Telenor and Weather Investments on February 15, 2012 is in breach of the law on foreign investments. The 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.

The next hearing in the Federal Antimonopoly Service's lawsuit will be held on November 27.

The court imposed a number of preliminary injunctions, including prohibitions preventing VimpelCom from changing its Russian management bodies or from approving any major transactions. VimpelCom Russia was banned from paying its parent company the approved dividends for 2011.

VimpelCom was established in autumn 2009 as the result of a merger between Altimo, which manages the telecommunication assets of VimpelCom's major shareholder Alfa Group, and Telenor interests in Russia's VimpelCom and Ukraine's Kievstar. In mid-April 2011 VimpelCom merged with Wind Telecom (former Weather Investments) to become the world's sixth leading cellular operator in terms of user numbers.

Altimo, a Russian shareholder, holds a 40.5 percent stake in VimpelCom Ltd. Telenor was also prohibited from implementing the option contract under the watchdog's lawsuit.