Vimpelcom to pay $2 bln in dividends

MOSCOW, April 19 Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:37am EDT

MOSCOW, April 19 (Reuters) - Emerging markets telecoms group Vimpelcom said it would pay a total of $2 billion in dividends, including the final tranche for 2012 and a special payout related to a recent stake increase by Russian shareholder Altimo.

Vimpelcom announced a final 2012 dividend of $0.35 per share, or a total of $615 million, bringing the total dividend in relation to last year's results to $0.80 per share.

It will also return to shareholders all proceeds from the conversion by Altimo of its preferred shares in Vimpelcom into common shares, or $0.79 per share, the company said in a statement late on Thursday.

"Going forward, we remain committed to pay annual dividends of at least $0.80 per common share, in line with our current dividend guidelines," Chief Executive Jo Lunder was quoted as saying in the statement.

Altimo, part of Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, earlier paid Vimpelcom $1.4 billion for the preferred shares conversion that raised its economic interest in the group to 56.2 percent from 52.7 percent.

Altimo will get more than half of those dividends, with Norwegian telecoms group Telenor, which has a 35.7 percent economic interest, receiving the bulk of the rest.

Shares in Vimpelcom closed 3.3 percent higher on Thursday.

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