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Telenor expects $1.7bn damage claim from Russian partners

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Norwegian operator concerned its shares in VimpelCom could be sold to pay the fine.
Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor ASA Friday said it is now waiting to be served papers by a local court that will request it to turn over $1.7 billion in connection with a long-running ownership dispute with its Russian partners.
A Telenor spokesman said Norway's Ministry of Justice and Police had received and processed a request to collect the fine levied by a Siberian court in March. According to the spokesman, the ministry found the request had met the necessary formalities, and that the ministry had asked the court in Asker and Baerum to collect the money from Telenor.
"One of our biggest fears is that our shares in OAO Vimpel Communications could be sold to pay the fine before another court in Russia rules on the case," said the Telenor spokesman.
While Telenor has yet to receive the court papers, it is expected that the operator would have five days to comply. It has said repeatedly it won't pay.
"We have no intention of paying the outrageous $1.7 billion damage claim awarded by the Omsk court based on what we regard as an illegal court ruling," said Edvard Thygesen, head of Telenor's central and east European operations in March.
The Russian request to the Norwegian government relates to the ruling of a Siberian court, which last month found that Telenor had obstructed the expansion of Vimpel Communications.
Telenor has a 30% stake in VimpelCom, which is Russia's second-largest mobile operator, but its shares were frozen by a Russian court last month.

 

By Adam Ewing and Will Bland, Dow Jones Newswires 

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