Telenor has announced that it will sell a portion of its holding in VimpelCom via a public offering in the US.
Roughly a quarter of the Norwegian firm’s 33% stake in the Netherlands-based operator will be sold off through this offer, which equates to around 8.1% of VimpelCom’s total shares. Telenor has not detailed its plans for the remainder of its stake.
Last October, Telenor stated that it planned to divest its holding in VimpelCom in order to refocus on its own operations. Its involvement with VimpelCom has prompted several high-ranking executives at Telenor – including former CEO Fredrik Baksaas - to resign over allegations related to the firm’s activities in Uzbekistan.
This is far from the only issue that Telenor has faced during its tenure as a VimpelCom stakeholder - not least of which is its strained relationship with majority shareholder LetterOne.
Telenor’s plans for its remaining holding in VimpelCom are unclear, and the firm said it would not comment further “at this point in time.” While LetterOne would be an obvious candidate as a buyer, the firm has not expressed any interest in the stake, and Telenor’s negotiating position would be weak.
The strategic importance of telecom firms in Russia also leaves foreign firms with limited options.