Norway may be willing to sell SAS shares

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The governments of Norway, Sweden and Denmark hold controlling shares in long-troubled Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and now they may be willing to reduce their stakes. All are backing a new issue aimed at boosting SAS’s capital, to reduce job losses and keep SAS flying, but Swedish government officials confirmed Thursday that they want to reduce their holdings. That prompted the Norwegian cabinet minister in charge of business and industry, Trond Giske, to say that Norway was “open” for a share sale as well. No sale is imminent, though. Giske said the shares would be sold if the company returns to profitability and becomes competitive again. “We’re open to a sale if we can get a good price,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), but only if jobs and the airline’s underlying values would be preserved. State ownership, Giske said, was more important in earlier decades than it is now. If both the Danish and Swedish governments support a sale, then it would be highly likely Norway would too, he said. SAS has been cutting costs for years but its workers remain among the most expensive in the industry. Burdened by years of state regulation and myriad labour union contracts in three countries, SAS hasn’t been able to compete against upstart airlines offering low fares and much lower wages for their workers.
By Views and News staff