Russia's A1 considers lawsuit over VTB-Tele2 deal

MOSCOW Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:29am EDT

A man talks on a telephone outside a branch of Nordic telecoms group Tele2 in St. Petersburg, March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

A man talks on a telephone outside a branch of Nordic telecoms group Tele2 in St. Petersburg, March 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Billionaire Mikhail Fridman's A1 investment group said it may take legal action to defend its right to buy Tele2's (TEL2b.ST) Russian unit, which the Nordic telecom company on Wednesday agreed to sell to state-controlled bank VTB (VTBR.MM).

Tele2's $3.5 billion deal to sell the unit to VTB was followed by a $3.6-$4 billion cash offer from Fridman's A1 partnership. VTB has said its deal is legally binding.

A1 says it also made a "significantly higher" bid than the one agreed with VTB during meetings with Tele2 management last year.

A1 said possible legal action could claim lost opportunities and a failure to execute fiduciary duties. Respondents are potentially Tele2's board, management and financial advisors Morgan Stanley (MS.N), it said.

"Our lawyers are working on considering filing a legal case," Dmitry Vozianov, managing director at A1, told Reuters.

Tele2's Russian unit also attracted a second offer, from mobile company Vimpelcom Ltd VIP.N - which has Fridman as a shareholder - and rival MTS (MBT.N). They are offering $4.0 billion to $4.25 billion, which they claim is a premium of up to 30 percent to VTB's offer.

Vozianov said that for Tele2 to accept the bid from VTB meant a difference of "half a billion for minority shareholders."

"Minority shareholders have a different action - they will have an action for the loss incurred," Vozianov said. "We are in talks with them but it is confidential."

Morgan Stanley did not respond to a message left on their press service phone line in London. Tele2 was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Maria Kiselyova; Additional reporting by Simon Johnson in Stockholm; Editing by Douglas Busvine, John Stonestreet)

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