$1.7 billion Telenor appeal on VimpelCom stake adjourned until 2010

An appeal by major Vimplecom shareholder, Telenor, against $1.7 billion in damages it had been ordered to pay the Russian mobile operator has been adjourned until 2010.

The Western Siberian Federal Arbitration court in Tyumen has adjourned an appeal by Telenor, against $1.7 billion in damages it was ordered to pay VimpelCom, until March 24 next year.

The Norwegian telecoms giant, which holds a 26.6% stake in Russia’s number two mobile operator, is appealing a ruling in a suit bought against it by British Virgin Islands base Farimex, which holds a minor stake in VimpelCom – believed to be less than 0.002%. The lawsuit brought by Farimex against Telenor argued that because the Norwegian company had vetoed Vimpelcom’s expansion into Ukraine, where Telenor has other assets, other shareholders in VimpelCom were disadvantaged.

A decision in Omsk earlier this year awarded damages of $1.7 billion against Telenor, which then saw bailiffs issue an order to auction off the stake, after Telenor refused to pay. 

The court has granted the adjournment at the request of Farimex. It is currently awaiting the outcome of a legal suit in New York to establish whether there is a relationship between it and majority VimpelCom shareholder, Russia’s Alfa Group.

Telenor has claimed that Farimex is acting in concert with Alfa Group, with which it has had a series of long standing disputes over management and strategic direction of VimpelCom.

Telenor's CEO, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, told RT Business that he isn't happy with the delay.

"We have to consider what kind of actions we could take in order to bring the case forward a bit more speedily than six months on the horizon."