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Telenor strikes back in Vimpelcom control battle

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14:38 CEST+02:00
Norway's Telenor said on Thursday it would again be the largest shareholder in mobile phone operator Vimpelcom after acquiring additional shares, surpassing the stake owned by a Russian businessman.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Altimo firm said on Wednesday it had become the biggest shareholder in Vimpelcom after a $3.6 billion deal with Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, extending a bitter feud with Telenor for control of a company with the world's sixth-largest mobile subscriber base.

But Telenor also said it had acquired more voting shares in Vimpelcom after Sawiris' Weather Investments decided to exercise a sell option, taking its stake in Vimpelcom to 43 percent against 40.5 percent for Altimo.

No price was given for the transaction, which Telenor said should be completed by October 1st at the latest.

Fridman is one of Russia's most powerful businessmen and the country's authorities have yet to recognise all of Telenor's additional acquisitions of Vimpelcom stock.

Their disputes have become a part of official government contacts between Moscow and Oslo.

Thursday's edition of the Kommersant business daily said Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) had come up with a four-point peace pact that would see mutual operation of Vimpelcom by the two enemy camps.

The accord -- terms of which would approve the Norwegian's company acquisition of additional shares in Vimpelcom -- would see Altimo and Telenor reach parity and install a Russian as the head of the operator.

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