Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman of Alfa Group has been reportedly called to testify in a Spanish court in October, Vedomosti daily and The Bell reported on October 7 citing the Financial Times.
Reportedly, the case is related to the alleged law violation when Fridman-linked entities received control in the technology company, ZWW (Zed WorldWide).
According to The Bell, the prosecutor claims Fridman convinced Veon mobile major (Vimpelcom in Russia) to stop working with ZWW, which significantly impaired the latter's financial situation. Reuters reports that Fridman then stepped in with an low acquisition price for the buyer.
Mikhail Fridman is a key shareholder of LetterOne investment fund, which is a major shareholder of Veon. The representatives of LetterOne denied the accusations.
LetterOne is the Alfa group’s acquisition vehicle and is notorious for playing hard ball. “We never lose,” is the company’s motto management told bne IntelliNews in previous interviews. It specialises in taking over distressed assets and then on-selling them after turning them around. The in 1990s Alfa also won itself a reputation for buying up company debt and using the bankruptcy laws to take the company over.
"At this stage, it is unclear whether the court case will have an impact on Veon, but it suggests certain risk – Fridman is a key shareholder in LetterOne, a major Veon shareholder," BCS Global Markets commented on October 7 seeing the news as slightly negative for the company.