Telenor sues Vimpelcom over WellCOM buyout

26 Jan 2006

Norwegian telco Telenor has launched three court actions against Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom, in which it holds a 29.9% stake, over the manner in which Vimpelcom bought Ukrainian cellco Ukrainian Radio Systems (WellCOM). In November 2005 Vimpelcom agreed to buy WellCOM for USD231.3 million, and the sale went ahead despite strong opposition from Telenor, which claims that fellow shareholder Alfa Group and Vimpelcom’s management bypassed the company’s board and violated Russian law in the acquisition process. Telenor and Alfa already share ownership of one of the Ukraine’s biggest mobile operators, Kievstar, and the Norwegian company says that this means a potentially costly raid on Vimpelcom’s resources for the far smaller WellCOM has ‘no business merit’.