Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Altimo telecoms firm said Wednesday it had reached a $3.6 billion deal with Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris for 15 percent of his voting shares in mobile operator Vimpelcom.
The announcement raises the voting shares held by Altimo to just above that controlled by its Norwegian rival Telenor and extends a bitter feud for control of one of the world's top mobile phone companies.
The Altimo telcoms investment branch of Fridman's Alfa Group said it acquired the 14.8 percent stake from Sawiris Weather company and bought additional shares on the open market to raise its holding to 40.5 percent.
That just edges the 39.5 percent Norway's global wireless operator achieved earlier this year thanks to a deal with Sawiris that is now being contested by Russia's anti-monopoly authorities.
The New York-listed Vimpelcom Ltd. -- famous for the brands Beeline and Wind -- closely trails MTS and MegaFon in Russia and is a strong presence on the Italian market.