November 19, 2014 / 3:00 PM / 4 years ago

Telenor says sale of Vimpelcom shares would 'rob' shareholders

OSLO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor would like to get rid of its Vimpelcom stake, but said the current share price level would make this difficult.

“It would have been great to get rid of the Vimpelcom shares, but to sell at today’s level would be to rob Telenor’s shareholders,” Telenor Chairman Svein Aaser told reporters after he had briefed Norwegian Industry Minister Monica Maeland on partly-held Vimpelcom’s operations in Uzbekistan.

Telenor holds 33 percent of the economic interests in Vimpelcom and 43 percent of the voting rights.

U.S.-listed Vimpelcom, Uzbekistan’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers, said in March it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Dutch authorities..

The case follows a probe by Swedish prosecutors of TeliaSonera’s operations in Uzbekistan which centres around allegations that it had paid around $350 million for its Uzbek 3G licence to a company it knew was a front for the daughter of Uzbek president Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova. (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, writing by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Alister Doyle)

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