MOSCOW Nov 14 Russia's antitrust watchdog FAS
said it is ready to drop its lawsuit against Norway's Telenor
over its stake hike in telecoms group Vimpelcom
, marking a further easing of tensions over control of
the Russian group.
The lawsuit had been filed by FAS in April to contest the
dominant position Telenor had at that time built up in
Vimpelcom, whose strategic importance in Russia the regulator
believed required it be kept free of foreign control.
Igor Artemyev, head of FAS, said on Wednesday the watchdog
would present its proposal regarding the settlement of the case
to a government commission on foreign investments at a Nov. 21
"If the commission approves it, it will mean withdrawal of
the lawsuit and end to all (legal) proceedings," Artemyev told
The settlement of the case has become possible after Russian
tycoon Mikhail Fridman's Altimo raised its Vimpelcom stake,
overtaking Telenor as the biggest shareholder.
Telenor subsequently changed its stance towards Vimpelcom,
declining to rule out a sale in what was seen at the time as
potentially signaling an end to the decade-long ownership
"We very much hope that if the commission takes the
decisions we are hoping for, then we hope to close this issue
and hope that third parties ... would not object either," said
The Moscow Arbitration Court is due to hear the lawsuit on
Nov. 27. FAS had filed the lawsuit because it was concerned with
the dominance of a foreign state-controlled firm in Vimpelcom,
whose Russian unit is considered by the government a strategic
Removal of the case would allow Vimpelcom to resume the
dividend payments it had deferred after FAS filed its action.