Telenor stuck with VimpelCom shares, for now

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Telenor, Norway’s large international telecoms firm, is still keen to sell off its stake in mobile phone company VimpelCom but probably won’t be able to unload its shares as long as VimpelCom remains under a corruption investigation. In the meantime, Telenor has taken huge losses on the shares, many of which hit the company’s third-quarter results.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Thursday how Telenor wrote down the value of its VimpelCom stake by NOK 5.4 billion in the third quarter. Despite a 16.9 percent increase in operating revenues by the end of the third quarter, the writedowns cut Telenor’s after-tax profits by 18.6 percent.

To see Telenor’s own statement of earnings, click here (external link).

Telenor announced earlier this month that it wanted to end its profitable but long-troubled involvement in the Russian-dominated VimpelCom. After years of arguments over ownership stakes, VimpelCom ultimately wound up under investigation in several countries over its expansion into Uzbekistan. The company is suspected of both bribery and money-laundering.

Questions also remain over who might buy Telenor’s 33 percent stake in VimpelCom. Telenor’s new chief executive, Sigve Brekke, wouldn’t comment when asked whether China Telecom was a possible buyer but claimed the VimpelCom stake has elicited interest. staff