Telenor dispute is test case for Russia
Norway’s Telenor has little doubt who the real opponent is in the fight over control of Russia’s VimpelCom mobile provider: their fellow shareholders, billionaire Mikhail Fridman and his Alfa Group.
They can’t absolutely prove it, and Fridman and Alfa deny it. But Telenor ASA is vowing not to go without a fight, and is appealing a legal decision last week that threatens to deprive it of its 29.9 percent share in Russia’s No. 2 mobile operator.
The case — with its murky legal background — has rattled foreign investors and is fast emerging as the biggest test yet of President Dmitry Medvedev’s pledge to overhaul Russia’s flawed legal system. Weak rule of law and the apparent ability of the well-connected to manipulate regulators, officials and courts remains one of the biggest barriers to investment in Russia.