Russian telco Vimpelcom has announced that the UK commercial court has approved its plans to stage a Special General Meeting of Shareholders (SGM) on 17 March, denying shareholder Telenor’s request that it grant an injunction preventing the SGM from occurring. On 28 January Norwegian telco Telenor, which holds a 36.03% voting stake in Vimpelcom, launched arbitration proceedings against its Russian partner Altimo Holdings, in relation to the Vimpelcom Shareholders Agreement. Telenor sought 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. Previously, on 16 January, Vimpelcom’s Supervisory Board declared that neither Telenor nor Altimo was entitled to pre-emptive rights in connection with the mooted transaction.
However, with the results of the arbitration process still pending, the commercial court, Vimpelcom, Altimo and Weather Investments have all guaranteed that Telenor will receive its pre-emptive shares should the arbitration tribunal ultimately find in its favour. All parties also agreed to protect Telenor’s voting stake from being diluted below 25% (plus one share) between the closing of the transaction and the resolution of the arbitration proceeding. Alexander Izosimov, CEO of Vimpelcom, commented: ‘We are pleased that the court agreed with Vimpelcom on the importance of allowing the shareholders to cast their vote on 17 March. Vimpelcom believes strongly in the merits of this transaction and is committed to continuing to act in the best interests of all shareholders’.