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State Aid

State aid: Norway's participation in credit facility in favour of SAS approved



Today, the EFTA Surveillance Authority closed a formal investigation regarding a Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) granted to Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in 2012.

SAS enjoyed in recent years an RCF provided by several banks, which was to expire in June 2013. The banks refused to renew this RCF without a substantial participation from the main shareholders of SAS, namely Sweden (21.4%), Denmark (14.3%), Norway (14.3%) and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation (KAW) (7.6%). In December 2012, the three States decided to finance half of a new RCF of SEK 3.5 billion (around €400 million), together with KAW and the majority of the banks that participated in the old RCF. The measure is linked to the implementation of SAS's new business plan.

After having received a complaint, the Authority opened a formal investigation to assess the conformity of the measure with EEA state aid rules. Given the particular situation involving these three States, of which two are EU members, the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the European Commission have conducted parallel investigations in close cooperation with each other. The Authority has now concluded that Norway's participation in the RCF does not constitute state aid.

“Our thorough investigation conducted in cooperation with the European Commission showed that Norway's participation in this credit facility does not involve state aid but rather reflects a commercial decision guided by prospects of profitability in the prevailing circumstances”, Oda Helen Sletnes, president of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, said.

In its investigation, ESA found that the three States and the banks were not in a comparable position when deciding to participate in the new RCF, in particular in view of the exposure of some of the banks towards SAS beyond the RCF. However, the investigation has also established the robustness of the underlying assumptions of the business plan. Indeed, the plan has been reviewed by external advisers who confirmed its credibility. Moreover, the risks taken by the States were further reduced as the collateral of the new RCF was sufficient.

On this basis, ESA considers that the new RCF was concluded on terms that a private investor operating under market conditions would have accepted. It therefore procured no undue economic advantage to SAS and did not entail state aid.

The new RCF was never used and was effectively cancelled on 4 March 2014.   

The European Commission has adopted a parallel decision concerning Sweden and Denmark's participation in the RCF. For further information see the website of DG Competition.

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


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Andreas Kjeldsberg Pihl
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187


Other EEA Institutions

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