Altimo strikes back with Vimpelcom share purchase

8 Oct 2012

Altimo, the telecoms arm of Russian financial and industrial conglomerate Alfa Group, has increased its voting stake in Amsterdam-based international telecoms firm Vimpelcom Group from 40.5% to 41.9%, the Prime-Tass news agency reports. Altimo vice president Yevgeny Dumalkin told Prime: ‘We have seized the moment and bought Vimpelcom’s shares at an attractive price, as we believe the company to be of interest to investors’. According to internal Vimpelcom documents, Altimo has boosted its stake by acquiring 27.2 million common shares for a total of USD273.8 million; the shares were acquired between 17 August and 5 October this year.

TeleGeography notes that the Vimpelcom Group has not formally publicised this series of share transactions, and its sole reference to the deals is in a footnote on the ‘ownership structure’ page, which reads: ‘As reported on Schedule 13D, Amendment No. 7, filed on 5 October 2012, by Altimo Cooperatief with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Altimo Cooperatief is the beneficial owner of 858,040,563 common shares and 4,932,000 preferred shares’.

Earlier this month Vimpelcom co-owner, Norway’s Telenor Group completed its own purchase of an increased stake in the Russian company, in the face of strong opposition from Altimo and Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). The purchase of the disputed 3.5% stake from Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ Weather Investments unit, which raised Telenor’s stake to 42.95%, was the latest episode in a long-running campaign by Telenor to secure what it regards as an equal holding in the Russian company alongside Altimo. Following the transaction though, the Vimpelcom Group revealed that it had decided to delay the registration of the requested transfer of preferred shares from Weather Investments to Telenor East Holding, until the order issued by the Moscow Arbitration Court prohibiting such transfer ceases to have effect.

Russia, Altimo (part of the Alfa Group), Telenor Group, VEON