February 10, 2011 / 3:55 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Altimo offers quick legal fix to Vimpelcom dispute

3 Min Read

* Telenor seeks injunction in deal for Orascom, Italy's Wind

* Altimo offers expedited arbitration with award by March 7

* Telenor says no objections to doing arbitration quickly

* Says to continue to pursue arbitration, injunction request

* Shareholders due to vote on deal for Wind on March 17

(Adds comments by Telenor)

By Maria Kiselyova and Wojciech Moskwa

MOSCOW/OSLO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Russia's Altimo has asked Telenor (TEL.OL), its Norwegian co-owner of Vimpelcom VIP.N, to speed up the legal process that it hopes will settle a dispute over Vimpelcom's plan to take over Egypt's Orascom ORTE.CA and Italy's Wind.

Altimo, the telecoms arm of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa-Group, said in a statement on Thursday it thought an 'expedited arbitration' with a final decision by March 7 could resolve the dispute.

Telenor said it had no objections to the arbitration process being quick but it was committed to blocking the Vimpelcom deal.

Telenor is battling to stop 36 percent-owned Vimpelcom's cash-and-share bid to buy Italian mobile group Wind and control of Egypt's Orascom from tycoon Naguib Sawiris as the deal would dilute Telenor's holding to a point where it claims it would be "dangerously close" to losing all influence.

The Norwegian firm is seeking a ruling by the Commercial Court in London to order Vimpelcom to issue it pre-emptive rights shares at the same time that Vimpelcom issues shares to Wind Telecom shareholders as part of the deal. [ID:nLDE7161YB]

"The undertakings proposed by Altimo and Vimpelcom in the letter to Telenor yesterday guarantee that Telenor will exercise its pre-emptive rights in full in case an arbitral tribunal finds in favour of Telenor," Altimo said in the statement.

The fate of the deal hinges upon Vimpelcom's minority shareholders whose vote will be crucial at a March 17 shareholder meeting.

Telenor wants the meeting postponed while the legal process runs its course, but Altimo said its fast-track proposal would allow the meeting to go ahead as planned.

"We don't feel that this (Altimo) proposal gives us any guarantees apart from what is already in the (Vimpelcom) shareholders' agreement ... We intend to keep up arbitration and our request for an injunction," Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard said. [ID:nOSN005028] (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Wojciech Moskwa; Editing by John Bowker)

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