Statoil CEO positive on parliament's backing for partial privatisation

Olav Fjell, Statoil's chief executive, said he is positive about a compromise reached by a majority of the Storting(parliament) last night, which opens the way for a partial privatisation of Statoil. The Conservatives, the Christian People's Party, the Liberals and the ruling Labour Party agreed to the main points in the government's bill on ownership of Statoil and on future management of the state's direct financial interest. "We're gratified that a broad majority is in favour of our stock market listing. This will give us increased strength and leverage," Fjell said. He said it is also pleased that the Storting committee on energy and the environment is keeping to the timetable. The compromise involves selling up to a third of Statoil's shares to private investors, with 15-25 pct being put on offer initially in a stock market listing. In addition, the parties have agreed that Statoil will be given the opportunity to acquire 15 pct of the SDFI's assets. Norsk Hydro and other companies can buy up to 6.5 pct. Fjell said Statoil is on schedule with the preparations which will be needed if the government resolves to make an initial public offering of Statoil shares in June. "We're also looking forward to clarifying which SDFI assets we'll be allowed to buy. These will strengthen us substantially, allowing us to develop our core areas off Norway and reinforce our gas position," he said. Fjell noted, however, that a majority of the Storting has also accepted the government's proposal to establish a separate gas transport company. "I register that the Storting has opted not to follow our advice on this issue," he said.