Norway's government will retain its current holding in oil and gas firm Statoil, changing its mind about a pre-election proposal to cut its stake to around 50%.
OSLO, June 20 (Reuters) – Norway's right wing government will retain its current holding in oil and gas firm Statoil , backing off a pre-election proposal to cut the stake to about 50 percent from the current two thirds of the shares.
The government led by the Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg has pledged to reduce the state's role in the economy to give the private sector more breathing space and shrink what it considers a bloated public sector.
The government owns about a third of shares listed on the Oslo stock exchange and said late on Thursday that it planed to cut its stakes in telecoms firm Telenor and industrial firm Kongsberg Gruppen.
"Statoil has a special place in Norwegian oil and gas policy and there's broad political agreement in Norway that the state should keep a majority stake," Trade Minister Monica Maeland told a news conference.
"The size of the majority stake has been debated from time to time, but we believe Statoil needs predictability, and therefore we've not asked for permission to cut our stake at this time," she added.
Before last year's election, Solberg told Reuters she wanted to cut the state's stake in Statoil.
Statoil is Norway's biggest company with stakes in most oil and gas licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf. Norway is the world's seventh-biggest oil exporter and the second-biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe after Russia.
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