The State will be an active owner

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The State will be an active owner


Category: Government

“The State will be an active, long-term and professional owner,” said Mr Giske. “The State has ownership in 52 companies with 300 000 employees. The State’s ownership interests in listed companies alone amounts to NOK 500 billion. This represents a great responsibility and a valuable contribution to Norwegian industrial development.”

Carrying out good corporate governance necessitates a flexible and dynamic ownership approach in today’s climate of increased globalisation, more rigorous expectations regarding companies’ social responsibility, and the rapid pace of technological development.

“The State must be able to decide quickly to changes, and in certain cases this means changing its share of ownership,” asserted the Minister of Trade and Industry.

The Government intends to maintain the extent of State ownership at roughly its current level. 

The Government proposes that authorisation be given from the Parliament (Storting) to reduce the State’s holdings in SAS AB, Secora AS and Entra Eiendom AS. The Government also requests authorisation from the Storting to participate in capital increases in Kongsberg Gruppen ASA and Yara International ASA.

The Government will establish new national seed capital funds to promote early-stage investments and thereby the emergence of new companies. Further investment capital will be allocated to Investinor, and the Government will consider long-term ownership in selected Investinor companies.

In the new white paper on State ownership, the Government affirms the State’s expectations of its companies regarding certain areas.

“In addition to meeting expectations of value creation and good earnings,” said Mr Giske, “these companies should lead the way in promoting social responsibility, technology and knowledge, human rights, climate and environmental awareness, and workers’ rights.”

Executive salaries in State-owned companies are to be competitive but not salary-inflating.

“Executive salaries have not developed in the way the Government has hoped. We therefore need to tighten the guidelines and introduce reporting requirements for the companies we own fully. In addition,” continued Mr Giske, “we will be stricter when it comes to executive pension benefits and severance packages.”

The Government will strengthen its capacity to administer the State’s ownership interests. The Ownership Department, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will also assume a greater role in coordination to ensure that the new ownership policy is followed up and incorporated.

State ownership interests

  • The white paper covers the state’s ownership in 52 companies, 23 of which are administered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
  • The State has holdings worth appr. NOK 600 billion through its companies; its shares in the listed companies are valued at roughly NOK 500 billion.
  • The new white paper on State ownership marks a continuation of the main elements of the previous White Paper; Report No. 13 to the Storting (2006-2007) “An active and Long-Term State Ownership”.
  • The four categories that was established in the previous white paper on State ownership, stating the major objectives for the state’s holdings, are continued.
  • The State’s principles of good corporate governance are kept unchanged, a fundamental element of which is the distribution of responsibilities between management and owner.
  • The State will maintain its total ownership interests at approximately the current level.
  • Authorisation is sought to reduce State interests in SAS AB, Secora AS and Entra Eiendom AS.
  • State guidelines for executive salaries and pension benefits are to be tightened. Any pension benefits based on pensionable income above 12G are to be paid as deposit pension limited to 30 percent of fixed salary beyond 12G. Wholly State-owned companies must report in accordance with current requirements for public limited companies.

Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry

Published: April 4, 2011