Vimpelcom chair says new Telenor-Alfa row likely

OSLO (Reuters) - A new conflict between Norway's Telenor TEL.OL and Russia's Alfa Group is likely after the two main Vimpelcom's VIP.N shareholders disagreed about the Russian mobile group's expansion, Vimpelcom's chairman said.

Alfa Group’s three representatives to Vimpelcom’s board and three independent members, including Chairman Jo Lunder, approved a proposed bid by the Russian firm for Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ telecom assets. Telenor opposed the deal and raised the prospects of another legal fight.

“Everything now indicates a new conflict between Telenor and Alfa...This is very unfortunate and I wish it were different,” Lunder told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“In this perspective, this is a sad day for Vimpelcom.”

Lunder said he backed the Sawiris deal as it would help Vimpelcom gain bulk, its terms were beneficial and synergies seen worth some 15 billion Norwegian crowns ($2.56 billion).

“The price we pay is attractive. It is low compared with other transactions we’ve seen last year,” he said, adding that the share dilution aspect of the transaction was “acceptable” because Vimpelcom gained “significant” new cash flow.