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FAS urges VimpelCom not to go against Moscow court injunction

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MOSCOW--Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, in a letter to VimpelCom Ltd. dated Sept. 19 and obtained by Dow Jones Newswires, urged the company not to go against the injunction posed by the Moscow arbitration court. 

The FAS called on the company to abstain from transferring the rights on shares of VimpelCom Ltd., which are subject to the option agreement between Telenor East Holding II AS and Weather Investments II S.a.r.l., as well as making changes to the shareholders' registry prior to the dispute's resolution. 

The ongoing shareholder strife resulted in an injunction issued by the Moscow arbitration court prohibiting the payment of almost 19 billion rubles ($595 million) worth of dividends from subsidiary VimpelCom JSC to the parent company.

The conflict between Telenor and Altimo arose earlier this year when Telenor tried to become the largest shareholder in the holding company of Russia's third-largest mobile phone company, VimpelCom, by buying out part of a minority partner's stake. The sale boosted Telenor's stake in the company from 25% to 36%.

The deal left Altimo, a subsidiary of Russian conglomerate Alfa Group, in second place with a 25% stake. A yet-to-be completed option deal would boost Telenor's share to 43%. 

The FAS had said the deal is illegal as Russian law stipulates that foreign and Russian shareholders can only own the company on a parity basis.

Telenor and VimpelCom Ltd. couldn't be immediately reached for comment. Altimo didn't comment on the letter.

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