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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Court Delays Telenor Case to April 30

The Moscow Arbitration Court late Tuesday said it would put off a decision on whether to block the seizure of Telenor's 29.9 percent stake in VimpelCom.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for April 30 and asked representatives of VimpelCom to attend, which would be the first time the company at the heart of the case has participated since it started last year.

Telenor has requested that the Moscow court block an Omsk court's seizure of its stake in VimpelCom after the Nordic telecom firm refused to pay a court-ordered $1.7 billion fine. The Omsk court on Feb. 20 ruled in favor of Farimex, which brought the suit against Telenor, claiming that Telenor delayed VimpelCom's entry into Ukraine. Telenor has linked British Virgin Islands-based Farimex, which owns a 0.002 percent stake in VimpelCom, with Alfa Group's telecoms arm Altimo, the mobile provider's other main shareholder. Alfa denies any connection to the case.

The Moscow court date will follow an April 28 hearing in Tyuman, where a court will hear Telenor's appeal requesting a stay on the execution of the Omsk court's ruling until an appeal of the original case can be heard May 26.

The case, which is tied to related suits in Kiev and New York, has been watched closely for the precedent it sets for shareholder rights in Russia. "If the verdict isn't appealed, it will bring harm to Russia's investment climate ... We ask the Moscow court not to allow this," Grigory Chernyshov, Telenor's lawyer, said Tuesday during the hearing.

Farimex lawyer Dmitry Cherny repeated the company's claim that it does not want Telenor to lose its stake. "Farimex is not interested in Telenor's shares. Farimex is interested in compensation for the losses," Cherny said.