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PR(03)11: The EFTA Surveillance Authority decides to open formal investigation procedure with regard to the sale of 1744 rental apartments in Oslo, Norway

11.7.2003

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has today decided to open a formal investigation procedure with regard to the notified sale of 1744 rental apartments at a price of NOK 715 million (approx. EUR 86 million) from the Municipality of Oslo to the private enterprise “Fredensborg Boligutleie ANS”.

In May 2001, the Authority requested that the Norwegian authorities submit information regarding the sale so that the Authority could assess whether the sale was in accordance with the State aid provisions of the EEA Agreement. After an exchange of information, the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry informed the Authority that in July 2001 the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus decided that the Municipality of Oslo cannot lawfully transfer the right of ownership before the County Governor has made his final decision. The Authority was also informed that a new value assessment would be carried out.

In February 2003, the Norwegian authorities notified the sale to the Authority. The notified sales price is in accordance with the sales contract from May 2001. Based on the information submitted and the arguments presented by the Norwegian Government, the Authority has carried out a preliminary assessment of the sale at issue and has come to the conclusion that there are doubts regarding the compatibility with the EEA State aid rules. The Authority has doubts as to whether the sales process was conducted in accordance with its Guidelines on State Aid, and whether the agreed sales price (NOK 715 million) reflected the market value. The result of the new value appraisal carried out after the County Governor intervened, was NOK 1,055 million (approx. EUR 127 million).

The Authority will inform interested parties by publication of the decision in the EEA Section of the Official Journal of the European Union and the EEA Supplement thereto. Interested parties will be invited to submit their comments within one month of the date of such publication.

For further information, please contact Mr. Amund Utne on tel. +32 2 286 18 50 or Mr. Rolf Egil Tønnessen on tel. +32 2 286 18 56.

11 July 2003




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