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Telenor Says Russia Should Drop VimpelCom’s Claim ‘Immediately’

Telenor ASA, the Nordic countries’ biggest phone operator, said Russian regulators should drop “immediately” their lawsuit against the company and should allow VimpelCom Ltd. to pay 2011 dividends.

Russia’s Anti-Monopoly Service, known as FAS, is disputing the Nordic company’s right to raise its stake after it bought 11.3 percent of VimpelCom from Weather Investments II in February. A Moscow court banned Amsterdam-based VimpelCom’s Russian unit from paying dividends on 2011 profits because of the shareholders’ dispute.

“We believe the lawsuit should be dropped and injunctions withdrawn immediately,” Dag Melgaard, an Oslo-based spokesman for Telenor, said by e-mail today.

Altimo’s Vice President Evgeny Dumalkin said via e-mail his company is preparing to issue a statement on Telenor’s claim later today. FAS spokeswoman Darya Silkova declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News by phone outside of normal business hours in Moscow.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Altimo, which had initiated proceedings against Telenor, said on April 15 it raised 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.

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