Telenor Chairman steps down over VimpelCom controversy

The Chairman of Norwegian telco Telenor has resigned his position after losing the confidence of the country’s government, which is the majority shareholder in Telenor.

Svein Aaser made it clear in his resignation statement that the reason for his departure is the ongoing controversy over VimpelCom and its operations in Uzbekistan. Telenor recently decided to bail out of VimpelCom, apparently with Aeser’s consent, but his subsequent resignation gives the impression he wasn’t so keen on the decision.

“VimpelCom has been under investigation for several years, and this has been challenging for Telenor,” said Aaser. “I would like to emphasize that it is VimpelCom that is under investigation and that Telenor has fully cooperated with investigating authorities as a witness. The company continues to await the outcome of the investigation.

“The Ministry and I have had different views on the handling of the VimpelCom issue. I have informed the Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Mæland, about my decision. Beyond today’s statement, I have no further comments.”

A Bloomberg report indicated Aeser’s resignation was forced by Mæland after receiving fresh information about the VimpelCom situation. “I no longer have confidence in Telenor’s chairman,” Mæland is quoted as saying. “I have received new information about the case. This is information that both I and parliament’s constitution and control committee should have received earlier.”

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