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Siberian court rejects Telenor appeal

29 апреля 2009

A Siberian court Tuesday rejected an appeal by Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor ASA that would have prevented bailiffs from enforcing a $1.7 billion damages claim before May 26.

Telenor was ordered to pay the damages by a court in Omsk two months ago, and a Norwegian bailiff served the claim on Apr. 3, giving the company five days to pay voluntarily.

However, Telenor says it won't pay the fine, which it says is based on "an illegal court ruling."

It is appealing against the damages claim itself - with the next hearing scheduled for May 26 -and wanted the Siberian court to put back the deadline until after this hearing.

As collateral against the $1.7 billion fine, Russian bailiffs have frozen Telenor's 30% stake in the country's second-largest mobile operator OAO Vimpel Communications.

Telenor fears that the bailiffs might sell this stake unless it wins a stay of execution on the fine, and it has applied for this separately in both Siberia and Moscow.

The court in the Siberian city of Omsk rejected Telenor's application for a stay of execution Mar. 23.

The Moscow court heard Telenor's application on April 14, but adjourned its hearing until April 30.

The damages claim was filed by Farimex Products Inc. which holds 0.002% of VimpelCom's shares. It says that Telenor obstructed the mobile operator's expansion into Ukraine and should compensate other shareholders.

Telenor says that Farimex is acting on behalf of Alfa Group, the Russian conglomerate alongside which it has invested in VimpelCom and Ukraine's largest operator Kyivstar.

Russian media have reported that Alfa and Telenor are in negotiations to restructure their common holdings.

Telenor has said that the Siberian lawsuit is a pressure tactic.

Источник: Total Telecom

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