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Altimo Seeks to Boost VimpelCom Stake by Buying Telenor’s Shares

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Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Altimo said it’s seeking to buy shares in VimpelCom Ltd., the world’s sixth-biggest mobile phone provider, from Telenor ASA.

“We are calling on Telenor to sell some of its shares to even our stakes in the company,” Altimo’s Vice President Evgeny Dumalkin said by phone from Moscow today. “We believe that Russian and foreign shareholder must have equal stakes in VimpelCom. It’s our strategic vision and we call on Telenor to share such approach.”

Altimo said in a statement today that it increased its stake in VimpelCom to 40.5 percent of the voting rights by purchasing 305 million shares from Egyptian Billionaire Naquib Sawiris’s Weather Investments II.

Russia’s Anti-Monopoly Service is disputing Telenor’s right to increase its stake in VimpelCom after the Nordic company bought an 11.3 percent stake from Weather Investments in February.

Altimo may further increase its stake by purchasing shares on the market, Dumalkin added. The company’s earlier talks with Telenor failed as the Nordic region’s second-largest phone company refused to sell any part of its stake in VimpelCom, he said.

Dag Melgaard, an Oslo-based spokesman for Telenor, did not immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment.

VimpleCom shares rallied 8.7 percent to $10.20 in New York, the highest level in three months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Halia Pavliva in New York at hpavliva@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tal Barak Harif at tbarak@bloomberg.net