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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Offer Seen for Golden Telecom

The country's second-largest mobile phone operator, VimpelCom, has offered to buy fixed-line operator Golden Telecom for $100 per share, a source familiar with the talks said Monday.

VimpelCom has long been expected to bid for Golden Telecom, having lined up debt financing for a deal that would create a fixed-to-mobile convergence play.

The offer, below current market levels but reflecting hefty growth in Golden Telecom's share price this year, could also offer a path to resolving a dispute between VimpelCom's feuding shareholders, Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group and Telenor of Norway.

"This is a final offer. VimpelCom considers $100 as a fair price and won't pay more, as going over this price will mean exceeding the threshold for big deals which is unacceptable for VimpelCom," the source said.

The offer would value Golden Telecom at $4.03 billion, equal to the current value of 50 percent of VimpelCom's net assets. That means it can be approved by the board and by law does not require shareholder backing, the source said.

VimpelCom, in which Alfa and Telenor own strategic stakes, has been the target of intensifying speculation that it will seek to acquire Golden Telecom.

Banking sources said VimpelCom was seeking to close syndication of a major loan worth up to $3.5 billion in early December to finance the acquisition.

VimpelCom and Golden Telecom declined to comment, as did Alfa's telecoms arm Altimo and Telenor.

Altimo has a 44 percent voting stake in VimpelCom, and Telenor owns 29.9 percent. Both Alfa and Telenor also own stakes in Golden Telecom of 26.6 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively.