Telenor pragmatic if VimpelCom bid emerges
Norway’s Telenor Group has eased its stance towards a sale of its stake in Russian operator VimpelCom, suggesting it would be more open to a buyer in the future.
Telenor spokesman, Dag Melgaard, told Reuters that if there was a bid for the 43% stake the carrier would have a pragmatic stance.
"It depends on whether somebody is interested in buying. It is a large stake worth somewhere between 35 and 40 billion Norwegian crowns ($6.13 to $7.01 billion)," said Melgaard.
Earlier this week, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Altimo overtook Telenor as VimpelCom’s largest shareholder after buying a 6% stake from Bertofan. This increased Altimo’s overall voting rights to 47.85%.
Telenor and Altimo have been engaged in a long standing dispute over ownership of VimpelCom, which resulted in intervention from Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator in May when Telenor bought 71 million shares in the company from Naguib Sawiris, temporarily gaining control of the company.
At the time Telenor suggested that both companies buy shares from Bertofan to restore equal ownership but Melgaard said that this week’s move by Altimo made it clear that the company only wanted control of the Russian operator.