Telenor would consider Vimpelcom sale

20 Aug 2008

Telenor of Norway says it would consider selling its stake in Russian cellular operator Vimpelcom to bring an end to a long-running conflict with the cellco’s other main shareholder, Alfa Group. The dispute between Telenor and Alfa centres on their interests in Ukraine, where they both own stakes in the largest mobile operator by subscribers, Kyivstar, and where Vimpelcom also has an operation. ‘We have said that to solve the conflict we will not sell Kyivstar … but we might be flexible regarding our Vimpelcom stake. That is one of the many possible outcomes of this conflict,’ Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard told Reuters. He added that there are no current plans to offload Telenor’s stake in Vimpelcom, which amounts to just under 30% of voting shares. Last week a court in Siberia found Telenor liable to pay USD2.8 billion in damages for allegedly attempting to block Vimpelcom’s entry into the Ukrainian cellular market. Telenor has vowed to appeal the decision. Vimpelcom is Russia’s second largest cellco by subscribers, with more than 42 million customers and a 25% market share at the end of March according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database.

Russia, Beeline (Russia), Telenor Group, VEON