Major Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom has acquired 100% of the equity of Kaliningrad-based cellco Extel, having purchased a 49% stake from Norwegian PTO Telenor [Oslo: TEL.OL] and the remainder of the company’s shares from other investors. Telenor, which owns 25% of Vimpelcom, will receive around NOK45 million (USD5 million) after tax from the deal. Telenor Mobile CEO Arve Johansen was quoted as saying that the disposal was part of the company’s strategy to streamline its overseas cellular activities, concentrating on increasing its stakes in a few international operations while offloading minority stakes in others. He added that his company was particularly pleased to reach agreement to sell the shares to one of its own subsidiaries, as the move will boost Vimpelcom’s quest to expand its footprint nationally; as it stands, Vimpelcom holds a number of licences covering around 79% of the Russian population, including Moscow and its environs and St Petersburg. Extel is the leading operator in Kaliningrad, with 105,000 subscribers and a market share of 65% at the beginning of this month.