In an interview with the Financial Times Telenor CEO Jon Baksaas indicates that the Norwegian telco is ready to pull out of Russian mobile operator VimpelCom. The operator would appear tired of all the litigation it has had to endure with its main partner in the mobile operator, Altimo, owned by Alfa Group (its shareholders are known to have an appetite for litigation in a bid to achieve their goals, in particular Mikhail Fridman).
For years Telenor has had to fight its partner Altimo over ownership of its interest in VimpelCom, with lawsuits instigated in various Russian backwaters and with the Russian authorities claiming that they could not influence the legal due process, even when the claims were clearly fatuous.
If Telenor does pull out, this will not look good for Russia’s investment potential, coming as it does soon after BP’s decision to exit TNK-BP and sell out to Rosneft (albeit taking an interest in the state-controlled oil & gas company).
The Russian authorities really need to get a grip with the current use of the courts by shareholders to pressurise partners through bogus claims, if they want to attract more foreign investment.