* Altimo to convert 128.5 mln preferred shares into common shares
* To increase its economic interest to 56.2 pct from 52.7 pct
* Voting stake to remain unchanged at 47.9 pct
* Co-investor Telenor had said open to selling its stake
MOSCOW, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Emerging markets telecoms operator Vimpelcom said it would receive around $1.4 billion for the conversion of its preferred shares by shareholder Altimo into ordinary shares in a move that will boost the Russian investor’s economic interest.
Altimo, the telecoms arm of billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa-Group, will convert 128,532,000 convertible preferred shares at a ratio of one preferred share for one common share on April 16, 2013, Vimpelcom said in statement on Monday.
As a result, Altimo’s economic interest in Vimpelcom will increase to 56.2 percent from 52.7 percent, while its voting stake, currently 47.9 percent, will remain unchanged.
Altimo has also recently raised its voting stake in Vimpelcom, overtaking Norway’s Telenor as the biggest shareholder, after years of tensions over control and strategy of the group.
Telenor, which has a 35.7 percent economic interest and 43 percent voting stake in Vimpelcom, repeated last week it was a long-term investor in Vimpelcom but said it would be open to selling its stake if the right offer was made.
Unlike usual practice, Vimpelcom’s preferred shares do not have rights to dividends but are entitled to vote.
They may be converted into ordinary shares - which have equal voting rights but also receive dividends - any time between 2-1/2 years and five years after their issuance at a price based on Vimpelcom’s NYSE share price.
After conversion, the voting stake does not change as the total number of shares that are entitled to vote stays intact.