Norway mulls cutting stakes in Telenor, Kongsberg Gruppen

OSLO Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:33pm EDT

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OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian government is considering reducing its stakes in telecommunications company Telenor (TEL.OL) and industrial group Kongsberg Gruppen (KOG.OL) both to 34 percent, a minister told the public broadcaster late on Thursday.

Norway's centre-right minority cabinet, in place since last October, has pledged to reduce the state's role in the economy. It plans to present a white paper on state ownership on Friday.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Monica Maeland told NRK television she would ask the parliament for permission to reduce the state's holdings from the current 54 percent in Telenor and 50 percent in Kongsberg Gruppen to give them more freedom in making strategic decisions.

"We are not allergic to foreign owners, and we think it is important to make it attractive for foreign investors to invest in Norway. Telenor already has foreign owners today," she said.

At the same time, it is important for the government to retain some shares to make sure that company headquarters remain in Norway, the minister said. "It is enough to own 34 percent."

The minister declined to comment on shares in other companies.

The government has stakes in a number of major Norwegian companies including oil firm Statoil (STL.OL), aluminium producer Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL), bank DNB (DNB.OL) and fertiliser maker Yara (YAR.OL).

(Reporting by Camila Knudsen, writing by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Jane Baird)

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