Telenor Group has decided to sell its 33% economic interest in the Russian telco VimpelCom.

Commenting on the move, Svein Aaser, chairman of the board of directors of Telenor Group, said: “The VimpelCom asset, where Telenor holds a minority position without the possibility to fully control the company, has been challenging. Based on a strategic review by the Board and the CEO, and after due considerations, Telenor Group has decided to divest its shares in VimpelCom Ltd. The disposal of our shares is in the best interest of our shareholders, and in accordance with Telenor Group’s long-term strategic focus”.

Telenor Group has invested NOK15 billion (€1.59 billion) in VimpelCom. The company has received NOK20 billion in dividends and the current market value of its ownership stake is approximately NOK20 billion.

The market value of VimpelCom shares represents around 8% of Telenor’s capitalisation value.

Sigve Brekke, president and CEO of Telenor Group, added: “We have maintained growth through solid performance from our controlled operations and will continue to focus on value creation in our core operations. Our ambition is to drive profitable growth in the telecom business, where Telenor will continue to monetize on the exponential data usage taking place across our footprint”.

Although no timetable for the divestment has been set, Telenor acknowledges it could take some time.

VimpelCom currently lists Mikhail Fridman’s L1 Technology, previously known as Altimo, as the largest shareholder, with a 48% stake in the telco.