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State Aid

PR(09)95: Investigation opened on sale of land by the municipality of Asker to Asker Brygge AS in Norway


The EFTA Surveillance Authority has today decided to open the formal investigation procedure regarding the sale of a plot of land by the municipality of Asker to Asker Brygge AS. This decision follows a preliminary assessment that raises doubts regarding whether or not Asker Brygge received state aid through this transaction.

In 2001, Asker Brygge signed an option agreement with the municipality of Asker, lasting until 31 December 2009, to buy the plot of land gbnr 32/17 for a fixed sum, adjusted according to the consumer price index. Asker Brygge called upon this option and bought the land in March 2007. The sale of land was notified to the Authority in February 2009.

If municipalities sell land below market value, this may be regarded as state aid. State aid is not compatible with the EEA Agreement, subject to various exceptions.

The Authority has doubts as to whether the sales transaction was carried out according to the market investor principle. In particular, the Authority has doubts regarding whether the price agreed upon in the option agreement corresponds to the market price for such an agreement. The price should reflect the property value at the time of the agreement combined with the value of the option and certain special arrangements granted to the buyer. The Authority has also assessed whether the plot of land was sold in accordance with market conditions in 2007. Finally, the Authority investigates whether the postponed payment of a part of the sales sum until 2011 without interest constitutes state aid.

The Norwegian authorities and third parties will be called on to submit their comments before a final decision is taken.

A non-confidential version of the Decision will be published in the register of state aid decisions on the Authority's website, normally within a month from the date of the Decision.

For further information, please contact:

Per Andreas Bjørgan,
Competition and State Aid Directorate
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 36


Brussels, 16 December 2009

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