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Company News

SCENARIOS-What next for Telenor in Russian dispute?

 MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - A court in the Siberian city of
Tyumen will hear Norwegian Telenor's TEL.OL appeal on
Wednesday against a $1.7 billion fine it has been ordered to pay
to Russia's second-biggest mobile operator, Vimpelcom VIP.N.
 The hearing is part of a legal battle between Telenor and
Farimex, a small shareholder in Vimpelcom that Telenor believes
acts on behalf of Alfa Group, the other main Vimpelcom owner and
its partner in Ukrainian mobile leader Kyivstar.
 The legal process is widely seen as a tool to put pressure
on Telenor in talks with Alfa over the fate of their joint
investments. Alfa, run by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman,
denies any link to Farimex.
 Meanwhile, Telenor faces the prospect of losing its
Vimpelcom stake after an Omsk court ruled it must pay Vimpelcom
for delaying its entry into Ukraine. Telenor is appealing the
case, but Russian bailiffs issued an order to auction its
Vimpelcom shares to cover the fine. [ID:nLT548368]
 Here are possible outcomes of the Sept. 30 hearing:
 HEARING ADJOURNED
If the court fails to take a decision on Wednesday and
reschedules the hearing, Telenor would get more time to come to
an agreement with Alfa Group.
 But meanwhile, the state property agency entrusted with
organising the sale may announce the auction of Telenor's shares
in Vimpelcom, putting more pressure on the Norwegian company in
its talks with Alfa.
 
TELENOR LOSES APPEAL
The Tyumen court has the right to uphold the Omsk court
decision and reject Telenor's appeal.
 Telenor will then appeal to the Supreme Arbitration
(Commercial) Court of the Russian Federation, the superior
Russian judicial body for the resolution of economic disputes
examined by arbitration courts.
 While awaiting the hearing, Telenor will still be risking
losing its Vimpelcom stake at a forced auction and facing
pressure to clinch a deal with Alfa Group.
 
 TELENOR WINS APPEAL
 The court in Tyumen may completely or partly cancel or
change the Omsk court decision and either make its own decision
on the case, or order retrial.
 Such a decision could potentially make Telenor's position in
the talks stronger as the forced sale of its Vimpelcom stake
would likely be suspended.
 
 ALFA AND TELENOR MAKE A DEAL
 Telenor said in July it was "eager" to resolve problems with
the disgruntled Russian partner and was open to a number of
potential solutions for their uneasy mobile ventures in Russia
and Ukraine. [ID:nLN164356]
 Analysts say the most likely resolution would be "corporate
divorce" giving Telenor Alfa's 43 percent stake in Kyivstar, and
Alfa gaining Telenor's 30 percent voting share in Vimpelcom.
 (For a factbox of Telenor's legal battles in Russia and Ukraine
see [ID:nLA514488])
 (Writing by Maria Kiselyova)


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