Norwegian telecoms group Telenor, which holds a 36.03% voting stake in Russian telco Vimpelcom, has confirmed that it has launched arbitration proceedings against its Russian partners Altimo Holdings, in relation to the Vimpelcom Shareholders Agreement. Telenor seeks to protect its pre-emptive rights in connection to Vimpelcom’s proposed acquisition of Wind Telecom, the telecoms holding company owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris. Telenor has requested that an arbitration tribunal determine whether or not it is still entitled to exercise its pre-emptive rights under the existing Shareholders Agreement. According to Vimpelcom, the preferred shares issued to Wind Telecom shareholders at the closing of the transaction will represent an approximate 20.0% economic interest and a 30.6% voting interest in the enlarged Vimpelcom group.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month Vimpelcom confirmed that its supervisory board had given its final approval for the proposed merger with Wind Telecom, the telecoms holding company formerly known as Weather Investments. Six of nine directors, including all three independent directors and the three Altimo-nominated directors, voted in favour of the transaction, with the three Telenor-nominated directors voting against the transaction, as had been previously acknowledged. A Vimpelcom press statement issued in response to Telenor’s notice of arbitration reads: ‘Vimpelcom’s management and supervisory board continue to believe strongly in the strategic rationale for the transaction, which will create a new global telecoms player with significant scale and an attractive mix of developed and emerging market assets, well-positioned to realise profitable growth’.