Adjustments in order to increase distribution of power and private ownership

In the new white paper on direct ownership in state-owned enterprises the Government asks for consent to reduce state ownership in several companies.

- The Government intends to make adjustments in order to increase diversification of power and private ownership. Private ownership should be the principle and state ownership must be justified specifically, says Ms. Monica Mæland, the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Today the Government presented the new white paper on direct ownership in state-owned enterprises to the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament).

The state has a comprehensive ownership comprising amongst other of one third of the values listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. On top of this the state owns a number of non-listed enterprises, in part or as a whole. In the white paper the Government asks for authorization from the parliament to reduce state ownership in several state-owned enterprises.

- This will increase the state’s flexibility to reduce the state ownership and its ability to support mergers or acquisitions or other strategic changes which will have a positive effect on the companies’ development, says Ms. Mæland.

The Government will in its proposition for the fiscal budget for 2015 ask for consent from the Storting to sell the state’s shares in companies where there is no specific justification for state ownership. Cermaq and Flytoget are amongst these companies (please see below for a complete list). Further, the Government will ask for consent to potentially reduce the state’s ownership of Kongsberg Gruppen ASA and Telenor ASA down to 34 percent.

- The state inhabits many roles and represents a great deal of power. Over time we intend to reduce the state’s direct ownership. I want, however, to emphasise that that we are in no rush to make these changes, and the flexibility we ask for represents no obligation to sell. In some companies state ownership is well justified. This could be to maintain main headquarter functions in Norway, the management of common natural resources, or in consideration of sectoral policy objectives. For the foreseeable future Norway will have considerable state ownership, says the Minister.

The white paper deals with the Government’s ownership policies and how the state ownership is to be conducted. State ownership shall be conducted in a professional and responsible manner. The main concern for the companies run on commercial basis is return on invested capital. There are various factors which contribute to this objective, among others well functioning, competent boards, clear expectations with regards to return on equity, dividends and corporate social responsibility. The white paper concerns the direct state ownership managed by the Ministries and comprises 55 companies where the state holds shares.

Another topic in the white paper is the remuneration of company executives. The Government announces that it will propose revised guidelines for executive remuneration this fall.

- Remuneration of company executives is a complicated topic and we need time to consider. We will have to do some additional work here, says Ms. Mæland.

The Government will in its proposition for the fiscal budget for 2015 ask the Storting for consent to possibly sell the states shares in part or in full for the following companies:

  • Ambita AS (formerly Norsk Eiendomsinformasjon AS)
  • Baneservice AS
  • Cermaq ASA
  • Entra Holding AS
  • Flytoget AS
  • Mesta AS
  • SAS AB
  • Veterinærmedisinsk Oppdragssenter AS

The Government will in its proposition for the fiscal budget for 2015 ask the Storting for consent to possibly reduce state ownership down to 34 percent in the following companies:

  • Kongsberg Gruppen ASA
  • Telenor ASA

Press contact: Press contact in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, phone +47 902 51 303,

 

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