November 3, 2015 / 6:52 AM / 2 years ago

Telecoms company VimpelCom to take $900 million investigation provision

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Telecoms company VimpelCom will take a provision of $900 million (584 million pounds) in relation to an investigation by U.S. and Dutch authorities at its business in Uzbekistan, it said on Tuesday.

VimpelCom gave no details about the investigation, saying the provision was "based on its ongoing assessment of the investigation during the third quarter of 2015", but Dutch prosecutors have said it relates to alleged corruption.

VimpelCom said that discussions with the authorities were continuing and, until concluded, "there can be no certainty as to the final cost to the company of any such resolution or the nature, likelihood or timing of a definitive resolution".

The Amsterdam-based company is owned by Norway's Telenor, which holds 33 percent, and Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, whose LetterOne fund owns 56 percent.

The probe, which has political implications because the Norwegian government holds a 54 percent stake in Telenor, will be discussed by a parliamentary committee in Oslo on Tuesday.

A statement from Telenor described the provision as "a serious development that significantly increases our concerns in relation to the potential outcome" of the investigation.

Last week, Telenor Chairman Svein Aaser resigned following a dispute with the Norwegian state over the handling of the case.

Industry Minister Monica Maeland said information about the investigation had been withheld from her and parliament for too long.

Executives at Vimpelcom said in May that the company was "nowhere near" the point of taking provisions as a result of the investigation, initiated in March last year.

Vimpelcom releases third quarter earnings on Nov. 6.

Reporting By Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam and Stine Jacobsen in Oslo; Editing by David Goodman and Keith Weir

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