Norwegian Government Stalls Merger Talks Between Utility Norsk Hydro and Centrica, Owner of British Gas

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Norwegian government officials fearing a politically sensitive deal ahead of elections have intervened to call off merger talks between Norsk Hydro (Oslo: NHY) and Centrica (London: CNA) owner of British Gas writes Norwegian business magazine

Independent sources confirmed to on Sunday that Norway’s Norsk Hydro and U.K.s Centrica where in merger discussions. However, the sources all said that the talks had now been called off and that no deal is imminent at this time.

Undisclosed sources told the Sunday Times on Sunday that merger talks where held between Sir Roy Gardner, Centrica’s chief executive and Eivind Reiten the Norsk Hydro chief executive in detail about a nil-premium deal. Gardner was said to be advised by Goldman Sachs. Centrica is valued at USD 16.4 billion.

The deal was said to have been cut off by the Norwegian government who owns 44% of the USD 22 billion Norsk Hydro as they became nervous about such a controversial deal ahead of Norway’s Septembers parliamentary elections.

Norwegian officials from both Norsk Hydro and the government declined to comment but that negotiations where talking place was confirmed to by Norsk Hydro union leader Frode Alfheim as well as from Centrica spokesperson Andrew Turpin who also said that “The Norwegian government is very protective of its oil and gas assets. They would not like to part with it, as I understand.”

Norwegian politicians from the opposition parties Arbeiderpartiet (labor party) and Senterpartiet (country/farming party) both stresses the special case for Norsk Hydro and the need for keeping a strong vibrant Norwegian oil and gas industry within the borders of Norway.

Norwegian oil analyst Martin Mølsæter told that he thought a nil-premium deal with Centrica not to be beneficial financially as there where vast gas resources in Hydro not yet fully reflected in the Hydro share price. Recent deals like the “Ormen Lange” deal has show that foreign interest are willing to pay a huge premium to get access to Norwegian gas resources Mølsæter told

For developing story in Norwegian see:

The story has gotten intensive press coverage in Norway on prime time TV and in print. Some links are:

TV 2 - Norway’s largest private TV channel.

Aftenposten – Norway’s daily newspaper of reference.

Sunday Times story:,,8209-1562227,00.html



Hans Jørgen Lysglimt

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