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PR(06)11: Amendments to Norwegian seed capital schemes approved


The EFTA Surveillance Authority decided today not to raise objections to amendments to two Norwegian seed capital schemes.

In July 2005, the Authority approved two notifications from Norway regarding a nationwide and a regional seed capital scheme, respectively. Under these schemes seed capital companies were to be set up to provide seed capital to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The State would participate with subordinated loans and loss funds to the seed capital companies.

After an initial investment was made in an SME, follow-on investments could, in both schemes, only be made on certain specific conditions.

At the end of 2005, the Norwegian authorities notified amendments to these conditions. The amended rules will make it easier to conduct follow-on investments. The reasons for these changes are, according to the Norwegian authorities, that the conditions which the Norwegian authorities previously notified, and the Authority approved in July 2005, makes it virtually impossible to conduct follow-on investments. To substantiate this, the Norwegian authorities have submitted documentation from potential fund managers stating that it will not be possible to establish the funds if the conditions remain as previously notified by the Norwegian authorities.     

In its assessment, the Authority concluded also that after the conditions for conducting follow-on investments are amended, the two schemes will fulfil the overall test of proportionality set out in the Authority’s Guidelines on state aid. 

For further information, please contact:
Mr. Amund Utne Director,
Director, Competition & State Aid Department
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50

8 March 2006

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