European Communications

Last update12:32:11 PM

Telenor ups Vimpelcom stake as it ends shareholder dispute

Telenor has upped its stake in Russia-based mobile operator Vimpelcom, thereby ending its dispute with family-owned investment vehicle Weather Investments II.

Telenor paid €288 million for 234 million VimpelCom preferred shares from Weather, which is owned by Egypt’s Sawiris family.

The deal increases the Norway-based operator’s ownership from 25 percent to 36.4 percent.

As a result, Telenor has withdrawn all its claims against fellow shareholders Altimo Holdings & Investments Ltd, Altimo Cooperatief U.A. and VimpelCom Ltd.

The dispute related to Telenor being denied the opportunity to buy more shares when VimpelCom merged with Naguib Sawiris’s Wind Telecom SpA.

"This transaction takes Telenor to approximately the same voting position as a successful outcome of the arbitration process would have achieved, and is therefore a commercial solution we are happy with," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor's CEO.

"The withdrawal of the arbitration claim will prevent further dilution of the VimpelCom shareholders, and it will enable a more normal corporate governance situation in VimpelCom.”

Naguib Sawiris added: "I am very happy about this transaction which will allow Weather to participate actively in the Supervisory Board of VimpelCom, will foster improved corporate governance of the company and ensure a better focus of the management on industrial issues in a context in which the existing disputes among the key shareholders have been resolved."