* Government plans to sell 20 pct stake in Telenor
* Wants to sell all stakes in Cermaq, SAS
* Will keep stakes in DNB, Yara, Norsk Hydro, Statoil
* Right-wing goverment wants smaller state role in economy
(Adds quotes from trade minister, analyst, details)
By Joachim Dagenborg
OSLO, June 20 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.
The government said in a white paper published on Friday it
also intended to keep stakes in bank DNB, fertilizers
producer Yara and aluminium producer Norsk Hydro
at the current levels.
The government - with a budget surplus exceeding 10 percent
of GDP and a rainy day cash pile worth $880 billion - is under
no pressure to raise money.
Even in case of shares in Telenor, the government was under
no pressure to sell them in the short term, and any changes will
depend on the market conditions, Maeland said.
The right to reduce ownership in Telenor and other companies
would give the government greater flexibility to support any
mergers or acquisitions, the trade minister added.
A 20 percent stake in Telenor, a global telecoms company
with 172 million customers in Europe and Asia, is worth around
$7.1 billion at current prices.
Telenor shares dropped by 3.7 percent from the previous day
close to 140.1 Norwegian crowns per share during morning trade,
rising to 144.2 crowns per share by 1148 GMT.
Analysts said the sale plans, by boosting supply of the
shares, could push prices lower in the future.
But in the longer run, the company could be better
positioned to make strategic decisions.
"In a market that is screaming for consolidation, Telenor
has in theory more opportunities than ever before," said Espen
Torgersen, an analyst at brokerage Carnegie.
(Writing by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)