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VimpelCom’s Corporate Governance Goes Down the Toilet

This is the last news Russia needs right now … yet another company violating its own laws to allegedly cheat other shareholders.  Maybe the Norwegians should’ve talked to BP or William Browder before getting into bed with Alfa.

From the Financial Times:

Telenor, the Norwegian telecoms group, on Thursday claimed its Russian partner Alfa Group was attempting to “steal” its strategic stake in Vimpelcom, Russia’s second-largest mobile operator, after a Siberian court froze its shares in the company.

Alfa Group, which is controlled by Mikhail Fridman, the Russian billionaire, denied any connection to the Vimpelcom case and claimed Telenor was trying to ensure the seizure of its telecoms assets via a ruling in a New york federal court that could see Alfa Group fined a total $12bn over the next year.

The rulings in Siberia and the US take the long running legal battle over Vimpelcom to a critical level while the freezing of Telenor’s stake looks set to revive new fears about the safety of foreign investments in Russia, just as the country’s battered stock market is starting to recover.

“This will unfortunately reinforce many investors’ view that Russia is a dangerous place in which to invest,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Uralsib investment bank in Moscow.