Telenor ASA (TEL), the Nordic region’s largest phone company, said it complied with Russian law in buying a stake in VimpelCom Ltd. (VIP) from Weather Investments II S.a.r.l. and intends to defend its position.
The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service filed a claim asking Telenor to return the 234 million VimpelCom preferred shares it bought from Weather for $374.4 million on Feb. 15, Telenor said in a statement, adding that it has not been formally notified of the claim. The FAS is also filing an injunction to keep Telenor from voting with the shares in the meantime, it said.
Telenor bought the stake to maintain its ownership level after VimpelCom, Russia’s third largest phone company, merged with Wind Telecom SpA. The FAS claims that the sale breached the law on foreign ownership of Russian strategic assets, VimpelCom, which is named as a third party in the claim, said in a statement yesterday. Telenor said the purchase, which brought it to 36.36 percent of the voting share, returned it to the ownership level it had before the Wind merger.
“There has not been any change of control in VimpelCom, nor is there any agreement between Telenor and Weather Invetments concerning control of VimpelCom,” Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard said in the statement. “We are open to a dialogue with the FAS, but we will defend Telenor’s position using all available remedies under applicable law and treaties.”
Telenor shares traded down 0.2 percent in Oslo to 101.2 kroner at 9:20 a.m.
To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at firstname.lastname@example.org