The Russian government has decided to withdraw legal claims against Norwegian operator group Telenor, signaling an end to the long-running dispute over the ownership of affiliate firm VimpelCom. The move allows the international operator, headquartered in Amsterdam but of Russian extraction, to distribute dividends to investors including Russian conglomerate Altimo.
In October this year, Telenor attempted to take its stake in the company to 42.95 per cent, but was told by VimpelCom that the share transaction would not be accepted. Telenor said that the transaction of shares was being made to honour an existing obligation. It had previously agreed to transfer 71 million VimpelCom preferred shares from another shareholder in the operator, Weather Investments, for $113.6m. The deal would have given Telenor the same stake in VimpelCom as Altimo.
Russian antitrust authority FAS filed a claim alleging that the share purchase and option transactions that it entered into with Weather Investments were illegal and violated Russian Strategic Investment Law. The claim requested that the Moscow Arbitrazh Court, the principal commercial court in Moscow, invalidated the transaction, and that Telenor return those VimpelCom shares to Weather Investments.
Now though, the Russian government has withdrawn the FAS claim.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of VimpelCom shareholders for their patience in this difficult dispute and are happy that it is complete,” said head of FAS Russia Igor Artemyev.