Telenor challenges Altimo over VimpelCom Ltd. shares in court of Bermuda
MOSCOW, June 13 - RAPSI. Norwegian-based Telenor has filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of Bermuda. The claimant is seeking the court to recognize that the purchase of VimpelCom Ltd. shares from Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris does not commit it to hold a public tender offer, Telenor reported.
In February, Telenor paid $374 million to Weather Investments to acquire 234 million privileged shares in VimpelCom Ltd. As a result, Telenor increased its voting shares in VimpelCom Ltd., the parent company of the VimpelCom mobile telephony operator, to 36.36 percent from 25.01 percent without considering potential call and put options.
Last week, a third shareholder of Altimo telecommunications shareholder sent a letter to VimpelCom accusing Тelenor and Weather of violating VimpelComs corporate charter. The shareholder claims that, according to the charter, the companies are obliged to hold a public tender offer after the acquisition of shares.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service also filed a complaint against the deal between Telenor and Weather. The watchdog maintains that Telenor breached the foreign investment law, as it failed to agree the stake increase in VimpelCom, which owns 100 percent interest in VimpelCom Russia.
The court scheduled the antimonopoly service's motion to be heard in October 2012. However, the court ruled in favor of implementing the interim measures requested by the watchdog and prohibited VimpelCom Russia from fulfilling the decisions of its annual shareholders meeting held on May 21 until the courts judgment on the service's lawsuit. The court specifically banned the company from paying dividends, worth 19 billion rubles, while VimpelComs auditor and board of directors have been prohibited from taking out loans or making other management decisions.
VimpelCom is one of Russia's largest integrated telecommunications services operators offering wireless, fixed and broadband services. Its sole shareholder is the Dutch VimpelCom Ltd.