MOSCOW, April 23 Russian billionaire Mikhail
Fridman's Altimo has secured a $3.2 billion loan from Russian
bank Sberbank, part of which will be used to pay for a
share conversion of telecoms firm Vimpelcom's stock, a
U.S. regulatory filing disclosed on Tuesday.
Altimo said in December it would convert its preferred
shares in Vimpelcom into common shares in a move to raise its
economic interest in the group. Under the deal it converted 128
million convertible preferred shares at a ratio of one preferred
share for one common share, it was previously disclosed.
As a result, Altimo's economic interest in Vimpelcom
increased to 56.2 percent from 52.7 percent, while its voting
stake of 47.9 percent remained unchanged, it was previously
disclosed. Altimo paid $1.4 billion for the conversion.
The premium was paid because, unlike usual practice,
Vimpelcom's preferred shares do not have rights to dividends but
are entitled to vote. They may be converted into ordinary shares
- which have equal voting rights but also receive dividends -
any time between 2-1/2 years and five years after their issuance
at a price based on Vimpelcom's NYSE share price.
According to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission on Tuesday, Altimo secured a three-tranche loan, part
of which will be used for the conversion of the preferred
shares. Part of Altimo's stake in Vimpelcom will be used as
collateral for the loan.
The filing did not state what the remainder of the loan
would be used for.
Altimo earlier in April launched an offer to buy out
minority shareholders in Egypt's Orascom Telecom for
around $1.8 billion. Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, a heavyweight
on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, is controlled by Vimpelcom,
which together with subsidiaries owns 51.92 percent.
(Reporting By Megan Davies and Maria Kiselyova; editing by Jim