Russia watchdog positive on Telenor's Vimpelcom offer

MOSCOW, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Russia's competition regulator is positive toward Telenor's proposal to reach parity ownership in telecoms group Vimpelcom with Russian co-investor Altimo, its head said on Wednesday.

"FAS will ask the government commission (on foreign investments) to take a positive decision as Telenor is a big investor and we have to send a positive signal," Igor Artemyev, head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), told reporters.

The Norwegian telecoms firm suggested on Monday that it and Altimo should buy and split a 6 percent stake owned by Bertofan, an investment vehicle of Ukrainian tycoon Viktor Pinchuk, so the two would have equal voting power, as it raised its Vimpelcom stake to 43 percent against Altimo's 40.5 percent.

Parity ownership is seen as a key condition of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit brought by FAS earlier this year to contest Telenor's dominant position in Vimpelcom. The first court hearing into the merit of the case is scheduled for Oct. 17.

(Reporting by Natalia Ishchenko; Writing by Maria Kiselyova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

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