Oslo Brs has been told by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance that DnB NOR can hold 18.33% of the share capital of Oslo Brs Holding ASA for a period of three years.As a condition for this approval, the Ministry of Finance has stipulated that DnB NOR ASA shall not exercise voting rights for more than 10% of the voting share capital of Oslo Brs Holding ASA or for more than 20% of the votes represented at a general meeting.
The merger of Gjensidige NOR Sparebank ASA and Den Norske Bank ASA in December 2003 caused the two companies’ combined holding of shares in Oslo Brs Holding ASA to exceed the limit of 10% specified in the Stock Exchange Act. Following an application submitted by DnB NOR ASA on 5 November 2003, the Ministry of Finance has now decided that the current holding of 18.33% of the share capital of Oslo Brs Holding ASA may continue for three years.
The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) wrote to the Ministry of Finance on 1 June this year with what is known as a reasoned opinion that the limits on ownership contained in the Stock Exchange Act conflict with the requirements for free movement of capital set out in the EEA Agreement. ESA does not dispute the arguments put forward by the Norwegian authorities on the wish to ensure the integrity of the securities market and the good functioning of the financial system as well as the need to ensure sufficient independence among providers of infrastructure services, but believes that the limitations on ownership and voting rights are unnecessarily restrictive and represent a disproportionate response.