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State Aid

PR(07)59: Property sales in South-West Norway under scrutiny

19.12.2007

Questioning whether several publicly owned properties in the Municipality of Time in South-West Norway were sold off cheaply by public authorities, the EFTA Surveillance Authority today decided to submit three transactions to in-depth scrutiny. If public authorities sell off land and buildings at prices below market value, it may be that the buyer receives State aid. The Authority decided to look into the case after receiving three complaints from private parties.

One of the properties concerned is centrally located and partly in use as a municipal car park. In autumn 2005, the municipality gave the land in question to a private investor in return for the construction of a new underground car park. The second property is industrial land located relatively close to the municipal centre, sold at cost without being publicly announced and without any value assessment. The third property is a football stadium which was given to a football club playing in the first division.

Having doubts that these transactions were carried out on market terms, the Authority decided to open the formal investigation procedure. A decision to open the formal investigation procedure is without prejudice to the final decision to be adopted by the Authority. The opening decision will be published in the EEA Section of the Official Journal of the European Union and the EEA Supplement thereto, inviting interested parties to comment within one month from the date of publication. The Authority will take its final decision after having reviewed comments from the Norwegian Government and from any other interested parties.    

One complaint also concerned a transaction allegedly allowing a private investor to construct a car park under a future school building in the municipality. As the municipality had not yet concluded any agreement with the investor concerning the car park, the Authority found that no aid had been granted and decided to close this part of the case.

For further information, please contact:
Mr. Inge Hausken Thygesen
Press and Information Officer
Tel (+32)(0)2 286 18 66; or

Ms. Hanne Zimmer
Officer, Competition and State Aid Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 87

19 December 2007




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