Union Bank of Norway, which scored highly in the 2001 Global Custodian agent bank survey, is to de-mutualise. This follows the 1999 merger with Gjensidige insurance group to form a new financial group called Gjensidige NOR. In June 2000 Gjensidige NOR applied to the Ministry of Finance for permission to establish Gjensidige NOR ASA, a financial holding company to own both UBN and Gjensidige NOR Spareforsikring, the life insurance company of the group. This necessitates the demutualisation of both companies and their conversion into limited liability companies. The non-life insurer of the financial group, Gjensidige NOR Forsikring, will remain as a mutual company and become one of shareholders in the holding company. The demutualisation process begins this Spring, with a view to completion by the end of the year. The chief rationale for the demutualisation is to enable UBN to compete with foreign banks entering the Norwegian market.