Nordic telecoms group TeliaSonera and Altimo, the telecoms holding company belonging to Russian conglomerate Alfa Group, have confirmed that they have taken steps to appeal the 14 October court ruling relating to the mooted merger of their cellular assets MegaFon and Turkcell. In April the plan ran into opposition from Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who owns 31.1% of MegaFon via his Telecominvest company, and two Russian courts have so far blocked the deal, with rulings in favour of Telecominvest made in June and October 2010 respectively; an earlier court hearing ruled in favour of TeliaSonera and Altimo.
TeliaSonera and Altimo disagree with the court’s most recent decision and have suggested that the ruling was based on an insufficient analysis of facts, rules and statutes. A press statement issued today by TeliaSonera reads: ‘Altimo and TeliaSonera believe that the agreement is fully valid and enforceable and does not contradict Russian or other applicable legislation, or unlawfully infringe interests of any third party (including Telecominvest). Both companies disagree that a general agreement of intent can be challenged in court as contradictory to the Russian Foreign Investments Law’.
As reported by CommsUpdate in April 2010, Alisher Usmanov, MegaFon’s third largest shareholder, instigated legal proceedings to block the deal between Altimo and TeliaSonera, with Usmanov reportedly keen to buy out his fellow shareholders. The court approved the appeal filed by Usmanov’s company Telecominvest, which claimed that the deal violated rules on foreign investment in strategic industries in Russia. Although Telecominvest has been invited to participate in the merger of MegaFon and Turkcell, the company has refused, favouring consolidation in the Russian market.