Telenor chief Brekke reveals VimpelCom stake sale talks are underway

Telenor Group CEO Sigve Brekke said the company is edging closer to a sale of its 33 per cent stake in VimpelCom, but added that it will hold out for the right price for the holding rather than seek to offload it at any cost.

Brekke revealed that Telenor is in talks with interested parties regarding the sale of its VimpelCom holding during a visit to Singapore late last week, Bloomberg reported. While the CEO said the Norway-headquartered operator is keen to conclude a sale soon, he explained that the company is seeking a "fair price" for the stake.

Telenor first detailed plans to offload its VimpelCom stake in October. At the time, the stake was valued at $2.3 billion (€2.02 billion) -- though Bloomberg placed the figure at $2.42 billion based on trading in the U.S. on Friday.

The CEO said Telenor was exploring the possibility of expanding its operations in the Asia Pacific region, with Bloomberg citing Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines as potential target markets.

Asia Pacific has already proved a fruitful market for Telenor. In it's fourth quarter 2015 earnings statement, it noted that its business in Myanmar made "impressive progress in its first year of operation", and ended the year with 14 million subscribers.

Brekke said Telenor is seeking to sell its stake in VimpelCom because it is unable to steer the Netherlands-headquartered operator's strategy, Bloomberg reported. That statement reiterates the rationale cited by former Telenor Group chairman Svein Aaser when Telenor first announced its intention to sell.

Aaser was subsequently forced out of Telenor Group following a spat with Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, Monica Maeland, over the company's handling of an internal probe regarding what its executives knew about alleged corruption at VimpelCom.

The former chairman was one of several high-profile casualties as part of probes of VimpelCom by U.S. and Dutch authorities -- investigations VimpelCom agreed to settle in February at a cost of $795 million.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg report
- view Telenor's Q4 2015 earnings statement

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