Norways prepares for divestments as ownership of Statoil is subject for a review

December 6
12:18 PM 2013

The government of Norway is drafting a proposal wherein it will be conducting asset sales, of which its biggest energy company, Statoil ASA, might also be included. Bloomberg said in its report that the proposal could signal the country loosening its grip on private companies.

In a December 4 interview with Industry Ministry Monica Maeland at her Oslo office, she confirmed that the Norwegian government will be submitting a white paper that will detail the companies it wishes to reduce its stakes and how it will be conducting its auction next autumn.

Maeland added, "The Norwegian government as an owner is powerful but private companies should have more power. There are private companies with more knowledge in what these companies are doing. Some companies are in competition with other private companies -- why should the government compete with private companies?"

Maeland took her post as the country's industry minister in October, and that she said she will be having meetings with several companies in order to assess the situation. Some of the companies Maeland will be meeting included the largest Nordic phone company Telenor ASA, fish-farmer Cermaq ASA and Statkraft AS.

In August, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said her government will seek to reduce its ownership stake in Statoil from 67% to 51%. Solberg ousted a Labor-led coalition in Norway's September elections.

Norway is the largest oil exporter in all of western Europe. Statoil is the biggest contributor of Norway's output, and produces 80% of the country's oil and gas output out of Stavanger on Norway's west coast. Aside from Statoil, Norway also has large state holdings and had build a massive USD810 billion wealth fund out of its energy riches.

Maeland, referring to Solberg's plamns to reduce state ownership in several companies, said, "We're talking about spreading power, we're talking about knowledge. In some companies we're good owners and in some we don't have the right knowledge, so we should let other people (with more experience and research gain control)."

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