According to RBC Daily, Telenor East Holding – an affiliate of Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor – has signed an agreement with JPMorgan Securities to purchase as many as 40 million American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) attributed to Russian telco Vimpelcom, in which Telenor already holds a 31.66% stake. Telenor chief financial officer Richard Olav Aa commented: ‘At the level at which the ADRs are now traded, their value seems to be attractive, and therefore Telenor has decided to increase its economic stake [with] these papers’. It has previously been noted that Telenor may well see its Vimpelcom holding diluted following the conversion of some shares, as a result of the Russian company’s merger with Wind Telecom, the telecommunications holding company owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.
As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate in April, Vimpelcom shareholder Alfa Group announced that it is looking to dissolve its shareholder agreement with fellow stakeholder Telenor. The announcement was made just hours after Vimpelcom completed its long-running USD6.5 billion merger with Wind Telecom. Russian conglomerate Alfa, which part-owns Vimpelcom through its Altimo telecoms holding arm, said that it ‘will trigger the termination of the current shareholders agreement with Telenor [in an attempt to] ensure proportional rights for all minority shareholders in the company and avoid further destabilising conflicts between major shareholders’. The uneasy partnership between Alfa and Telenor has been marred by a series of unsavoury shareholder disputes, notably the five-year battle over the ownership of Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar, which was finally resolved in April 2010, with a new shareholder agreement that saw Kyivstar and Vimpelcom become 100% subsidiaries of incorporated company Vimpelcom Ltd.