Norwegian government to seek consent for SAS sale

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Norway’s government is to seek permission from parliament to sell its stake in SAS Group, one of the strategies being put forward in its fiscal budget proposal for 2015.

The Norwegian trade and industry minister Monica Maeland says that the government is to “make adjustments” to reduce ownership in state companies.

“Private ownership should be the principle and state ownership must be justified specifically,” she said, as the government unveiled its white paper on the subject.

Consent will be sought from the Storting, the Norwegian parliament, to sell “in part or in full” the state’s shares in SAS Group and other companies, including the Oslo Gardermoen airport express rail service Flytoget.

Norway’s government holds a 14.3% share of SAS Group.

But the request for permission will not automatically trigger a sale, says Maeland: “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 headquarters functions in Norway, the management of common natural resources, or in consideration of sectoral policy objectives.”

Sweden’s government has a 21.4% share of SAS Group while the Danish government holds 14.3%.