Telenor Executive Vice President Thor Halvorsen said today, “Telenor is first in line to be affected if Alfa is successful at convincing Ukrainian courts to enforce Alfa’s attempts to rob majority shareholders of the right to control the companies they own. This is a serious issue, and we quickly raised the alarm with other businesses that could potentially suffer from the same type of raider tactics if Alfa is successful. Responsible, long-term investors on the ground in Ukraine have come together to oppose the narrow agenda of one Russian financial-industrial group, which could spoil Ukraine’s good reputation.”
“Alfa’s agenda is wrong for Ukraine, wrong for Kyivstar and wrong for mobile telecom consumers,” said Telenor Vice President for Corporate Communications Dag Melgaard. “In addition to seeking control over Kyivstar, it appears that Alfa group seeks to exert control over the Ukrainian mobile telecom market through its direct or indirect shareholdings in Kyivstar, URS, Astelit and Golden Telecom, as well as its interest in participating in the privatization of Ukrtelecom.”
Telenor ASA is one of the largest mobile operators worldwide with ownership interests in 13 mobile operators across Europe and Asia. Telenor’s subscriber base has reached 100 million in September. Telenor’s primary investment in Ukraine is Kyivstar G.S.M., the country’s largest and the most dynamic national mobile operator, with a subscriber base of 17,5 million as of 1 September 2006. Telenor owns 56.5 percent of Kyivstar and Storm, a 100-percent owned affiliate of the Alfa Group, owns the remaining 43.5 percent.
The Ukrainian Supreme Court plans to hear Storm’s lawsuit on Tuesday, 3 October 2006.
Under the Kyivstar Shareholders Agreement to which Telenor, Storm and Kyivstar are parties, all disputes between the parties must be settled by arbitration in New York. Alfa and its affiliates have violated this provision by filing nine separate lawsuits and petitions in Ukrainian courts against Telenor, Kyivstar and its officers. Telenor commenced an arbitration proceeding against Storm in New York in February 2006, seeking to compel Storm to comply with its obligations under the Shareholders Agreement. This proceeding is still underway.
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