Telenor deputy chairman steps down in latest high-profile exit

A visitor rests under a Telenor Group sign at the GSMA Mobile World Conference in Barcelona int his file photo dated February 18, 2009. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Three board members at Norway's Telenor TEL.OL, including the deputy chairman, will step down this week in the latest high-profile departures from the state-controlled telecoms company.

The protracted boardroom upheaval at the company follows a dispute with the Norwegian government last year over Telenor’s handling of an investigation into affiliate Vimpelcom’s dealings in Uzbekistan.

A statement from the company on Monday said that deputy chairman Frank Dangeard and board members Marit Vaagen and Burckhard Bergman had asked to be relieved of their duties ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Telenor corporate assembly that appoints board members.

Telenor said that two new board members, Jacob Aqraou and Siri Beate Hatlen, had been proposed by its nomination committee and it is considering putting forward a third candidate.

Vimpelcom, in which Telenor holds a 33 percent stake, said in February that it would pay $795 million to resolve U.S. and Dutch investigations into a bribery scheme in Uzbekistan, in the second-largest global anti-corruption settlement in history.

The latest departures from Telenor’s top management follow the October resignation of then-chairman Svein Aaser, with the chief financial officer and legal director following suit last month after a report by auditing firm Deloitte found weakness in the company’s handling of the Vimpelcom case.

The report did not find that any Telenor employees had been involved in corrupt actions or any other legal offences.

The Norwegian government owns 54 percent stake of Telenor, which has more than 200 million subscribers in 13 markets across Europe and Asia.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by David Goodman