Tensions remain between Telenor, Russian shareholders of VimpelCom mobile major.

By bne IntelliNews August 21, 2012
Tensions remain between the shareholders of one of Russias three largest mobile telecom providers VimpelCom, Russian Altimo (a telecom arm of Russian Alfa Group) and Norwegian Telenor. Last week both companies announced increasing its stakes by acquiring shares from Egyptian businessmans Nagib Sawiris Weather Investments: Altima got 14.8% of the shares to a 40.5% stake, while Telenor expects to increase its stake in Vimpelcom to 43% by October by acquiring 3.5% of the voting shares. After both deals were announced Altima proposed to reach a parity ownership conditions, which Telenor refused claiming that in reality Russian shareholders control the company as a stake belonging to a Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk is affiliated with Altimo. Telenor is going to file respective complaints to the anti-monopoly watchdog Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS). To remind, the conflict between Altimo and Telenor escalated in 2011, when Telenor protested Vimpelcoms deal with Egyptian holding Weather Investments. The deal includes VimpelComs acquisition of 51.7% in Orascom Telecom and 100% in Wind Italy providers for USD 1.8bn and a transfer of 18.5% of shares in the united holding to Weather Investments, which was announced to to make VimpelCom 5th largest global mobile operator in terms of subscribers (174mn people). Net IFRS profit of one of Russia's three largest mobile telecom providers VimpelCom Ltd soared by 83% y/y to USD 488mn after declining by 36% y/y to USD 318mn in Q1/12, company announced. In H1/12 overall companys profit went up by 12% y/y to USD 806mn. In H1 revenues went up by 37% y/y to USD 11.4bn. Company's net debt as of end of H1/12 declined by 7% y/y to USD 23.7bn. In the end of April 2012 Standard&Poor's revised the outlook for long-term BB credit ratings of VimpelCom from Negative to Stable. Agency believed that sufficient generated free cash flows and readiness to decrease the debt burden are going to ensure that the company is able to absorb the possible negative influence of recent Wind Telecom acquisition and the influence of volatile currency exchange rates. VimpelCom Ltd posted consolidated net profit (calculated under US GAAP) of USD 488mn in 2011, dropping almost fourfold by 71% y/y.

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