Telenor could soon lose sway over Vimpelcom

NORWAY’S Telenor faces losing its influence over Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom after fellow leading shareholder Altimo said it wants to scrap the company’s shareholder agreement to reflect the Russian telecom group’s recent blockbuster merger.

Vimpelcom last week closed a $6bn (£3.7bn) cash-and-shares deal for 51.7 per cent of Orascom Telecom and 100 per cent of Italy’s Wind, giving their Egyptian owner Naguib Sawiris 30.6 per cent of voting shares in the united group.

The 2009 agreement, thrashed out after years of courtroom and boardroom battles between Telenor and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Altimo, was designed to give Altimo and Telenor roughly equal say in Vimpelcom. One of the key elements of the agreement was a balanced boardroom, with three independent directors balancing Altimo and Telenor’s three directors a piece.