UBS, Caisse des Depots Sell Stake In Norway's Gas Pipeline Network


OSLO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Bank UBS and France's Caisse des Depots have sold their stake in Norway's offshore gas pipeline system after years of litigation with the government over tariffs, according to the firm they sold, Njord Gas Infrastructure.

The investors sold their 100 percent stake in the Norwegian firm, which owns an 8 percent stake in Gassled, the offshore pipelines network transporting Norwegian gas to Britain and continental Europe, to private Norwegian oil firm CapeOmega.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Norway's Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of 2017 whether to hear an appeal from Njord and some other Gassled stakeholders involved in the $1.8 billion tariff row.

A Norwegian appeals court said in June the government had acted within its rights when it imposed cuts in tariffs for transporting the gas. The government cut tariffs shortly after infrastructure investors bought stakes in Gassled in 2011 and 2012 from ExxonMobil, Total, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell for a total of 32 billion Norwegian crowns.

Other international investors in Gassled include Germany's Allianz, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Canada's PSP Investments and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Some of Gassled's partners said the decision to lower tariffs from 2016 had shaken Norway's image as a stable destination for investment.

Norway's oil and energy ministry, UBS and Caisse des Depots were not immediately available for comment.

The sale agreement announced on Monday included a clause to split any proceeds from a settlement in favour of the Gassled partners between CapeOmega and former Njord Gas owners Birte Norheim, the Njord CEO told Reuters.

CapeOmega, owned by private equity firm HitecVision, also agreed last week to buy 9 percent of the Polarled pipeline, outside of Gassled venture, and 3 percent of the Nyhamna gas processing plant from Shell.

The deal, which would make CapeOmega the third-largest shareholder of Gassled by boosting its stake to 11 percent, is pending approval from the Norwegian government and competition authority, Njord Gas Infrastructure said in the statement.

(Editing by Terje Solsvik and Edmund Blair)


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