TeliaSonera AB and billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group said they plan to appeal a Russian court decision aimed at stopping the merger of their stakes in OAO MegaFon, Russia’s third-largest wireless operator.
“We believe the decision was wrong and we still believe our agreement is fully valid and enforceable and doesn’t contradict Russian law,” TeliaSonera spokeswoman Cecilia Edstroem said today. The companies haven’t yet sought approval for the deal from Russian authorities, she said. Evgeny Dumalkin, a spokesman for Alfa’s telecommunications arm Altimo, also said it disagrees with the decision and plans to appeal.
Stockholm-based TeliaSonera and Moscow-based Altimo agreed last year to combine their stakes in Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS and MegaFon to increase dividends and improve corporate governance. The ruling is the second rejection of the deal by Russian courts after OAO Telecominvest, a MegaFon shareholder, sued in April to block the merger of the holdings, citing a Russian law that bars state-controlled foreign investors from taking control of strategic companies.
After a Moscow court ruled to nullify the deal, Russian authorities referred the case to a different court, which handed down the current decision, Edstroem said. TeliaSonera expects to receive the decision in about a week, examine it and subsequently appeal, she said.
No one at the press office of Moscow’s ninth arbitrary court of appeal was immediately available to comment.
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