Norway Acquires Stake in Aker Kvaerner

The Norwegian government said Friday it was taking control of a 12% stake in Aker Kvaerner valued at 4.8 billion kroner ($801 million) in a deal it said would keep the industrial group based in Norway for the next 10 years.

The government will control its stake through a new holding company it will form with Aker, the biggest owner in Aker Kvaerner, and Swedish companies Saab and Investor.

Aker said it would transfer its 40.1% stake in Aker Kvaerner, valued at 16.1 billion kroner ($2.69 billion), to the new holding company, called Aker Holding.

Aker will hold 60% in the holding company, the Norwegian government 30%, Saab 7.5% and Investor 2.5%.

In essence, that means Aker reduces its shareholding in Aker Kvaerner to 24% and the government assumes control of a 12% stake in the industrial conglomerate. Saab and Investor, which is the investment arm of Sweden's powerful Wallenberg family, will control 3% and 1% of Aker Kvaerner, respectively.

Under the agreement, which needs parliamentary approval, the owners of the holding company commit to keeping their shares in Aker Kvaerner for at least 10 years. The government said the agreement also means that the headquarters for Aker Kvaerner will remain in Norway for the next 10 years.

Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Dag Terje Andersen called it a historic agreement that ensures "that strong Norwegian industrial expertise remains based in Norway."

Aker Kvaerner shares were down 0.5% at 151 kroner in closing trade on the Oslo bourse.

Aker Holding's sole activity is its strategic ownership in Aker Kvaerner, and as a newly established company, it has no debt. It will own 110.3 million Aker Kvaerner shares, corresponding to 40.1% of Aker Kvaerner's shares and voting rights.

Norway's government and the companies owning Aker Holding will control the future development of Aker Kvaerner, having the power of veto. They have agreed to continue its development as an internationally competitive supplier, with operations primarily in the energy, oil and gas sectors.

"This solution provides a long-term perspective and stability, and is a strong foundation for continuing Aker Kvaerner's profitable growth," Aker Kvaerner Chief Executive Martinus Brandal said in a statement.