Telenor, Altimo Make Peace

8:50 AM -- A new twist emerged today in the five-year-long feud between Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN) and Altimo, the telecom arm of Russian conglomerate Alfa Group.

The companies have called a halt to all their legal battles over control of VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP), Russia's second largest mobile operator, and Kyivstar GSM , the Ukraine's largest mobile operator. Instead of fighting in various courtrooms, Telenor and Altimo now plan to form a joint venture that will pool their shareholdings in the Russian and Ukrainian operators and create an international mobile operator with 85 million customers. (See Telenor, Altimo Create Russian JV.)

The joint venture company, to be called VimpelCom Ltd., will be incorporated in Bermuda, headquartered in Amsterdam, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) . Telenor will own 38.8 percent of the new venture, and Altimo will own 38.4 percent; but Altimo will hold 43.8 percent of votes while Telenor will have 35.4 percent.

The deal will mark the end of a long-running legal battle for the companies. Before completion, which is expected in the middle of next year, the companies have agreed to suspend all legal proceedings and either withdraw or settle the any disputes. (See Brrr! Russian Court Freezes Vimpelcom Shares, Telenor Wins Court Ruling, Mariner Launches ExecVu, and Telenor Opposes VimpelCom Decision.)

The new VimpelCom joint venture mobile operator, will have operations not only in Russia and the Ukraine, but also in Georgia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. And the company plans to expand in other developing markets across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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