Norway’s Telenor Launches U.S. Lawsuit Against Russia’s Alfa Group
Norwegian telecom group Telenor has filed a U.S. lawsuit against Russian investment consortium Alfa Group, further intensifying the dispute that the two companies are involved in over Ukrainian expansion plans by VimpelCom, Russia’s second-largest mobile operator. Both Telenor and Alfa hold large stakes in the telecom company. The information was reported on Wednesday, Aug 31, by the Reuters agency.
According to a filing with a U.S. district court in New York dated Aug. 26, Telenor is seeking to deny Alfa voting rights at a VimpelCom extraordinary general meeting scheduled for Sept 14. The meeting was called by Alfa’s telecom subsidiary Alfa Telecom in order to decide its Ukraine strategy.
Telenor, Norway’s biggest telecoms company, has a 26.6 percent stake in VimpelCom and has long been at odds with Alfa Telecom, part of billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s business empire, which owns a 32.9 percent stake. Telenor wants the court to issue an order restraining Alfa and linked companies from voting at the meeting until Alfa corrects what Telenor said were misstatements in a proposal for VimpelCom to buy a small Ukrainian mobile operator Ukrainian RadioSystems. Alfa wants VimpelCom to take over the company, which operates under the Wellcom brand, but Telenor has said the $200 million purchase made no business sense. “It would harm business value to invest so much in a company not worth a fraction of the amount,” Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard said. He added that he did not know how long it would take the U.S. court to rule.