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Russian authorities to oppose Telenor, TeliaSonera deals for assets merger.

NORDIC BUSINESS REPORT-22 January 2010-Russian authorities to oppose Telenor, TeliaSonera deals for assets merger(C)1994-2010 M2 COMMUNICATIONS http://www.m2.com

22 January 2010 - The Russian competition authorities will oppose a simultaneous merger of the Russian assets of mobile operator OJSC VimpelCom with those of Telenor ASA, and of MegaFon with TeliaSonera's, Russian news agency Interfax said yesterday.

Interfax quoted Igor Artemyev, director of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

Norwegian telecoms major Telenor (OSL: TEL) and Russian conglomerate Alfa Group, led by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman, agreed in October 2009 to combine their common assets in VimpelCom (RTD: VIMP) and Ukrainian sector player Kyivstar, in a new entity, to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The companies thereby ended a five-year ownership battle.

Swedish-Finnish telecoms major TeliaSonera AB (STO: TLSN) and Alfa shortly afterwards agreed to merge their holdings in mobile operators MegaFon in Russia and Turkcell (IST: TCELL) in Turkey and into a new company, also to be listed on NYSE.

Telenor spokesman Dag Melgaard said in a comment for news wire TDN Finans Thursday afternoon that Telenor considers that the mergers were never planned to take place simultaneously.

"Artemyev said that the correct way is to enter a contract first for VimpelCom and afterwards make a decision about the second agreement. TeliaSonera said, when it announced its plans, that the deal lies maybe two years ahead in time before it can imagine to implement such a contract," Melgaard said.

Melgaard considers that Artemyev's words do not express any opposition against Telenor and Alfa's plan, but only that the mergers can not be implemented at the same time.

((Comments on this story may be sent to nbr.feedback@nordicbusinessreport.com))

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Publication:Nordic Business Report
Date:Jan 22, 2010
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