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Antitrust case against Telenor to be heard November 27

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MOSCOW, October 17 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court will hear on November 27 the Federal Antimonopoly Service's complaint against the Norwegian Telenor's purchase of 234 million preferred shares in telecom giant Vimpelcom Ltd. from Weather Investments II S.a.r.l., the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com) on Wednesday.

In February, Telenor acquired shares in VimpelCom from Weather Investments II, controlled by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, and increased its voting stake in the holding company first from 25.01 percent to 36 percent, and then to 39.5 percent. Subsequently, the parties signed an option contract that allowed the Norwegian company to increase its stake to 43 percent.

The watchdog maintains that the stock and option purchase deal between Telenor and Weather Investments on February 15, 2012 is in breach of the law on foreign investments in strategic companies. The service also wants Telenor to return the shares to Weather Investments and sign a new shareholders agreement with VimpelCom and Altimo according to the previous terms.

Altimo, a Russian shareholder, holds 40.5 percent. Telenor was also prohibited from implementing the option agreement under the watchdog's lawsuit.

VimpelCom Ltd. was established in autumn 2009 as a result of the merger between Altimo, which manages the telecommunication assets of VimpelCom Ltd.'s major shareholder Alfa Group, and Telenor interests in Russia's VimpelCom and Ukraine's Kievstar. In mid-April 2011 VimpelCom merged with Wind Telecom (former Weather Investments) to become the world's sixth cellular operator in terms of user numbers.

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