Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s investment fund LetterOne – the dominant shareholder in multinational telecoms firm Vimpelcom – does not intend to buy the 33% equity stake in Vimpelcom that Norway’s Telenor put up for sale on Monday, Reuters reports, quoting Russian newspaper Vedomosti’s sources. Luxembourg-registered LetterOne – affiliated (although not part of) Russian conglomerate Alfa Group – controls a 56.2% equity/47.9% voting stake in Amsterdam-based, US-listed Vimpelcom, and had been seen as a potential bidder for Telenor’s 33.0%/43.0% equity/voting stake, which has an approximate market value of USD2.3 billion.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the direct holder of the dominant 56.2% (47.9% voting) Vimpelcom stake is Altimo Cooperatief UA (Netherlands), itself 100% owned by Altimo Holdings & Investments Ltd (British Virgin Islands), in turn 100% owned by LetterOne Overseas Investments Ltd (Gibraltar), which is itself 100% owned by LetterOne Holdings SA (Luxembourg). In December 2013 Alfa Group transferred its stake in Altimo Holdings & Investments to LetterOne Holdings, an investment vehicle which was established in June that year by Alfa Group shareholders, and since that date Alfa no longer reports Altimo/LetterOne as part of its group. Mikhail Fridman – who has dual Russian/Israeli citizenship – is LetterOne’s chairman and is also a director of Vimpelcom and Alfa Bank (part of Alfa Group); the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lists Fridman as beneficial shareholder of Vimpelcom via Altimo Cooperatief.