Telenor offers control of Kyivstar to Vimpelcom to end Alfa feud

21 Mar 2006

Norwegian telco Telenor yesterday offered to sell its stake in Ukrainian mobile market leader Kyivstar to Russian cellco Vimpelcom to end a legal dispute with fellow Kyivstar shareholder Alfa Group. Telenor said it was willing to offload its 56.51% Kyivstar holding to Russia’s second largest GSM provider for USD5 billion in cash. However, one of its conditions is a separation agreement between itself and Russian-owned Alfa. Telenor and Alfa are also investment partners in Vimpelcom, with shares of 29.9% and 33% respectively. Under Telenor’s proposed agreement, the company placing the highest value on Vimpelcom would have the right to purchase all of the other’s shares in Vimpelcom in case the two shareholders enter into a conflict. Telenor and Alfa have engaged in legal and boardroom battles for control over the last two years, with Alfa pushing for a merger of Vimpelcom and Kyivstar. Telenor’s latest proposal comes after Vimpelcom last month offered USD5 billion in shares to buy Kyivstar from Telenor and Alfa (which holds 43.49% through subsidiary Storm). Telenor Executive Vice President Jan Edvard Thygesen said: ‘We are not prepared to sell Kyivstar to Vimpelcom unless there is a structure in place that will ensure that Alfa’s attacks [on Telenor] will end.’ Early reports indicate that Alfa is not keen on Telenor’s new offer.

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