TeliaSonera Says Court Rules to Block Megafon Merger, Company Will Appeal
TeliaSonera AB said a Russian court ruled in favor of a lawsuit seeking to block the planned merger of its stake in OAO MegaFon, the country’s third-largest wireless phone company, with that of Alfa Group.
TeliaSonera expects to appeal the ruling and has not changed its plans, Cecilia Edstroem, a spokeswoman for the Stockholm-based phone company, said by telephone today. The court ruled in favor of OAO Telecominvest, a MegaFon shareholder that sued in April to block the merger of the holdings.
Telecominvest, controlled by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, cited a Russian law that bars state-controlled foreign investors from taking control of strategic companies such as MegaFon. TeliaSonera’s biggest shareholders are the Swedish and Finnish governments, with a combined 51 percent stake. The company also plans to merge its stake in Turkey’s Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS with that of Alfa, billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s holding company.
“To us this is very premature, as we have not filed for any regulatory approval yet,” Edstroem said. It will probably take another week for the company to have access to the ruling, “but I expect we will appeal as we think this is very strange,” she said.
“We are considering a possibility for an appeal,” said Evgeny Dumalkin, spokesman for Alfa Group’s Altimo unit. Altimo also hasn’t seen a copy of the court ruling, which will be made public on June 28, he added.
TeliaSonera has focused its work so far on the merger of the Turkish assets, Edstroem said. TeliaSonera and Alfa plan to create a new company to hold the MegaFon and Turkcell stakes.