Telenor to divest VimpelCom stake

Sven Aaser

Sven Aaser

Telenor Group has announced its intention to divest all its shares in Russian operator VimpelCom, where the company has an economic stake of 33%. Telenor Group will now fully focus on creating value in core operations.

Telenor said that VimpelCom has gradually contributed less to the value of the group, and the value of Telenor’s core operations have increased rapidly. Today, the market value of the VimpelCom Ltd. shares represents approximately 8% of Telenor’s market capitalization.

Telenor Group has invested NOK 15 billion (€1.6 billion) in VimpelCom. The company has received NOK 20 billion in dividends and the current market value of the ownership stake is approximately NOK 20 billion.

Telenor said it will explore all options to divest its shares in VimpelCom and will seek to find the best solution for Telenor and its shareholders. A timeframe for the divestment has not been set, but is expected to take some time.

The Vimpelcom stock declined in the third quarter and ended at US$4.11 per share versus a book value of US$5.64 per share, leading to Telenor making a non-cash impairment of approximately NOK7.5 billion in the third quarter.

“The VimpelCom asset, where Telenor holds a minority position without the possibility to fully control the company, has been challenging. Based on a strategic review by the Board and the CEO, and after due considerations, Telenor Group has decided to divest its shares in VimpelCom Ltd. The disposal of our shares is in the best interest of our shareholders, and in accordance with Telenor Group’s long-term strategic focus,” said Svein Aaser, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Telenor Group.