Telenor trio seek to exit board of directors

Telenor said three members of its board of directors have asked to be relieved of their duties, in what appears to be another sting in the tail for the operator following its handling of a probe into allegations of corruption at VimpelCom.

The Norway-headquartered operator revealed on Monday that deputy chairman Frank Dangeard, board member Marit Vaagen, and director Burckhard Bergmann asked to be removed from its board of directors. Telenor proposed that Jacob Aqraou and Siri Beate Hatlen replace Dangeard and Vaagen, and stated that its nomination committee is considering whether to propose a replacement for Bergmann.

Telenor revealed the requests and proposals in a statement issued to the Oslo Bors stock exchange this morning. It explained that its corporate assembly will consider the nomination committee's proposals at a meeting this week (May 11) following the company's AGM.

While the operator did not specifically state that Dangeard, Vaagen and Bergmann submitted the requests as a reaction to recent criticism of its handling of an investigation into allegations of corruption at VimpelCom -- in which Telenor holds a 33 per cent stake -- Reuters was quick to draw a line between the timing of the board members' requests and the publication of a report into Telenor's processes regarding the probe.

Law company Deloitte Advokatfirma last month cleared Telenor's management of being involved in corrupt actions regarding the VimpelCom matter, but criticised the way in which Telenor handled its stake in the Netherlands-headquartered operator.

Telenor CFO Richard Olav Aa and general counsel Pål Wien Espen resigned following the publication of the Deloitte report, becoming the latest in a string of high-profile casualties related to the operator's VimpelCom stake, including former CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas and ex-chairman Svein Aaser.

VimpelCom announced in February that it had agreed to pay a total of $795 million (€697 million) to settle investigations by U.S. and Dutch authorities into allegations of corruption relating to the receipt of operating licences in Uzbekistan.

Telenor has since indicated a desire to sell its VimpelCom stake. Bloomberg reported last week that the operator had appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co to explore such a sale.

For more:
- see this Telenor statement
- read this Reuters report
- view this Bloomberg article

Related articles:
Telenor CFO, general counsel resign as report points to weaknesses in handling of VimpelCom
VimpelCom to pay nearly $800M to settle Uzbek bribery probes
Telenor ex-CEO Baksaas defends company's decision to terminate consultancy contract
Telenor Group CFO falls victim to VimpelCom probe
Telenor CEO hands VimpelCom probe over to external lawyers