(Repeats to widen distribution with no change to headline or
* Telenor stake for sale worth $7.1 billion
* Wants to keep 34 percent in both
* Aims to maintain headquarters in Norway
(Adds formal announcement, size of stakes, budget background)
OSLO, June 19 Norway's government will ask
parliament for the right to cut its stake in telecommunications
company Telenor and industrial group Kongsberg Gruppen
to 34 percent of each entity, the trade minister said
Norway's centre-right minority cabinet, in place since last
October, 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.
"There is no need for changes in state ownership in these
companies in the short term and there is no obligation to divest
shares," Trade Minister Monica Maeland said in a statement.
"Any change will depend on commercial considerations, taking
into account company-specific aspects as well as market
conditions, among other factors," she added.
Norway's government holds 54 percent of Telenor, a global
telecoms company with 172 million customers in Europe and Asia.
The state owns 50 percent in Kongsberg Gruppen.
A 20 percent stake in Telenor is worth around $7.1 billion
at current prices, while a 16 percent stake in Kongsberg Gruppen
is worth around $440 million.
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 cash.
The state plans to keep big stakes in both companies over
the long term as it wants to ensure that both keep their
headquarters in Norway.
"We will secure this by holding at least 34 percent of the
shares," Maeland said.
The government has stakes in a number of major Norwegian
companies, including oil and gas producer Statoil,
aluminium producer Norsk Hydro, bank DNB and
fertiliser maker Yara.
On Friday, the government will present its plans to sell the
stakes to parliament. However, approval is not certain as the
government rules in a minority and needs the support of its
(Reporting by Camilla Knudsen; Writing by Balazs Koranyi;
Editing by Jan Paschal)