April 21, 2010 / 8:36 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Vimpelcom says shareholders approve Kyivstar merger

* 97.87 pct of shareholders approve merger

* New company to start trading on NYSE on April 22

(Adds details, background)

MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom OVIP.K said on Wednesday that 97.87 percent of its shareholders have approved its planned merger with Ukraine’s Kyivstar, putting behind it a long-running corporate battle.

“All conditions for successful completion of the exchange offer have now been satisfied,” Vimpelcom Ltd said.

The merger marks a peace deal between Norway’s Telenor (TEL.OL) and its Russian partner Alfa Group, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

They agreed late last year to merge their holdings in Vimpelcom, Russia’s No. 2 mobile operator, and Ukraine’s Kyivstar into New-York listed company Vimpelcom Ltd to end a long-running corporate battle. [ID:nL5637811]. “The fact that all outstanding issues have been resolved between our two major shareholders, (Alfa Group unit) Altimo and Telenor, makes me confident that our new corporate and governance structure will enable us to realise the full potential of our assets,” Vimpelcom Ltd CEO Alexander Izosimov said in a statement.

Under the offer, Vimpelcom shares are being exchanged into stock in the new company, Vimpelcom Ltd. The merger was also made possible by Vimpelcom investor Farimex dropping its Russian court case against Telenor last week.

Altimo and Telenor now hold 44.7 percent and 36.0 percent respectively of the voting rights and 39.2 percent and 39.6 percent of the economic interests in Vimpelcom Ltd.

“The required approvals from the relevant regulatory authorities in Russia and Ukraine have been received and all legal and regulatory proceedings and enforcement actions in the Farimex case against Telenor have been withdrawn, without cost or loss to Telenor,” Vimpelcom Ltd said.

Shares in Vimpelcom Ltd will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on April 22. Shares and American Depositary Shares not tendered in the exchange offer will be subject to a mandatory squeeze-out procedure under Russian law, the company said. (Writing by Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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