Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Alfa Raises VimpelCom Stake

Alfa Group, billionaire Mikhail Fridman's holding company, will raise its stake in VimpelCom to 39.5 percent as part of its fight with Telenor for control of Russia's second-largest mobile phone company.

A unit of Alfa agreed on March 7, 8 and 9 to spend more than $142.7 million exercising options to buy 1.8 percent of VimpelCom's stock, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings dated March 8 and 9.

Moscow-based Altimo and Telenor are fighting a legal battle over VimpelCom's expansion into Ukraine, where both companies already own telecommunications assets. Both companies applied with the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to get a controlling stake in VimpelCom while seeking each other's exit from the company.

"The 40 percent gives us the opportunity to ensure our shareholder rights and a structural control over the company," Altimo vice president Kirill Babayev said in an interview Monday. He declined to say whether Altimo plans to further increase its stake.

Alfa agreed to buy 675,000 American Depositary Receipts for $82.6 each, 818,400 for $84.2 apiece and another 205,900 for $87.6 per ADR, the filings said. The transactions are expected to be completed this month.

Telenor, the Nordic region's biggest phone company by revenue, owns a 26.6 percent stake in VimpelCom. VimpelCom has more than 55 million subscribers in Russia and other former Soviet countries.