Telenor sells 142.5m VimpelCom shares

Jason McGee-Abe
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VimpelCom has today announced that Telenor has sold 8.1% (142.5m) of its shares in the operator

The shares were sold at a price of $.5 per share. Telenor has reduced its holding from 33% to 24.9% and represents the first stage in selling its entire holding.

VimpelCom says it will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the shares and it has also granted underwriters a 30-day option to purchase just over 21 million additional shares at the offering price.

Telenor started its share shale earlier this week and the company said: "This transaction follows Telenor’s announcement on October 5, 2015 of its intention to divest its stake in VimpelCom." Telenor has not set a deadline for its eventual sale of all its stake.

Telenor confirmed as recently as August 2016 that it was still looking to sell the whole of its stake in VimpelCom. A former CEO of Telenor, Jon Frederik Baksaas, left the company shortly after it asked Deloitte to conduct an external review of its handling and oversight of its stake in VimpelCom.

VimpelCom is controlled by Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman through his LetterOne investment group. It owns Wind in Italy, Beeline in Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan and other countries, Djezzy in Algeria, and a number of other businesses.

Telenor said it planned to sell the stake after its discomfort with a bribery scandal in Uzbekistan, which it settled in February by paying $795 million in the Netherlands – where VimpelCom is registered – and the US.

The previous CFO, Richard Olav Aa, was suspended in November 2015 during the investigation into its stake. Jørgen Rostrup, a Norwegian who is president of Yara North America, will become the new CFO later this year. GTB