UPDATE 1-Singer Bjork petitions Iceland to stop energy sale

Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:39pm EST

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(Adds Magma Energy response, stock move)

STOCKHOLM Jan 17 (Reuters Life!) - Singer Bjork presented a petition on Monday to Iceland's prime minister, protesting against the sale of an Icelandic geothermal energy company.

The deal to sell Iceland's HS Orka to Canadian-based geothermal firm Magma Energy Corp MXY.TO was approved by a parliamentary oversight committee last year, but has faced public opposition since -- most notably from Bjork.

The Icelandic singer, who is known for her political activism, has said that Icelanders should be allowed to decide through a referendum whether access to the country's natural resources should be privatised.

Bjork led a group of 70 to 80 protesters to present Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir with the petition of 47,000 signatures, Iceland's Morgunbladid newspaper reported on its website. Iceland has a population of about 319,000.

Sigurdardottir then invited the singer and two other activists to her office for a chat.

"Basically we are in agreement on the issue, but it's always a question of methods. In plain language, it's a question of how to deal with the system, the bureaucracy," Bjork told reporters after the meeting.

Sigurdardottir, who joined in with protestors singing outside her office in downtown Reykjavik, said in a video posted on the Morgunbladid website that she had accepted the petition "with great pleasure."

Magma, headed by mining magnate Ross Beaty, said on Monday it was "business as usual" at the company and its subsidiary. Neither Magma nor Orka had been contacted by the government, Magma spokeswoman Alison Thompson said.

"The transactions have been reviewed several times. They have all come back to be legally binding and appropriate," she said.

Magma's shares were 4 Canadian cents weaker, or down 2.9 percent, at C$1.34 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday afternoon.

The sale of Orka to Magma was agreed to by Iceland's previous government, which was brought down by the financial crisis.

Thompson said the reviews of the Orka sale were completed by the current government. (Reporting by Omar Valdimarsson and Nicole Mordant in Vancouver, editing by Paul Casciato)

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