April 7, 2017 / 9:03 AM / 4 months ago

Telenor takes further step towards Veon exit

OSLO, April 7 (Reuters) - Norway's Telenor has sold a four-percent stake in Amsterdam-based mobile network operator Veon for $259 million as part of an ongoing campaign to cut all ownership ties to the firm formerly known as Vimpelcom.

After years of conflict between Telenor and Veon's biggest owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, Telenor decided in September 2015 to sell all shares in the firm.

In the transaction lead by Citigroup and Morgan Stanley on Friday, Telenor sold 70 million Veon shares at a price of $3.75 each.

"This is another step in the process to sell our Veon shares," a Telenor spokesman told Reuters.

Following the sale, Telenor owns 346.7 million Veon shares, equal to 19.7 percent, including shares tied to an exchangeable bond which commits Telenor to deliver Veon shares worth $1 billion when it falls due in 2019.

Telenor's remaining 346.8 million Veon shares are currently worth around $1.3 billion, and if the value drops below $1 billion when the bond expires it must pay the remaining amount in cash.

Telenor now faces a 60-day lockup period but would be free to sell more Veon shares after that, the spokesman said. (Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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