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Telenor opposes revised Sawiris deal - source

LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Norway's Telenor TEL.OL is set to oppose Vimpelcom's VIP.N revised offer for Naguib Sawiris's telecom assets even at the risk of conflict with Vimpelcom's other big owner Alfa Group, a source close to the negotiations said on Friday.

Sources have told Reuters that Vimpelcom's board will meet on Sunday to discuss the revised offer for Sawiris' Wind Investments, a vehicle which controls operator Orascom ORTE.CA and Wind Italy. [ID:nLDE70D0N3]

“Telenor issued a statement ahead of Vimpelcom’s previous board meeting where they said they opposed the offer. Unless we see another statement, we can take it for granted that Telenor has not changed its view,” said the source.

The source said Telenor realised that by digging in its heels against the Sawiris deal, it could upset ties with Alfa Group, a Russian conglomerate with a history of battling Telenor over Vimpelcom’s strategy before a 2009 “peace” accord.

“Telenor is aware the situation is strangely familiar to what happened in the past with Altimo (Alfa’s telecoms arm). Telenor feels that blocking this deal is more important (than avoiding potential conflict),” the source said.

Telenor said on Friday it would not disclose its views publicly but that it had informed Vimpelcom’s management and independent board members of its stance on the deal.

Last week Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters the rationale for the deal remained “meagre”. [ID:nLDE7041CK]

Editing by Douwe Miedema