Norwegian government stops the sale of Bergen Engines to Russian-controlled company

Monica MælandPhoto: Fredrik Hagen / NTB

The government is stopping the controversial sale of the engine factory Bergen Engines to a Russian-controlled company, Minister of Justice Monica Mæland (H) announced.

“The sale would strengthen Russian military capabilities in a way that would clearly be contrary to Norwegian and allied security policy interests,” Mæland said when she presented the case in the Norwegian parliament (Storting) on Tuesday.

She stated that the government has been working on the case for a long time after they became aware in December that the current owner, Rolls-Royce, wants to sell Bergen Engines to a company within the Russian TMH Group.

“We are aware that TMH Group has connections to the Russian authorities. This is an issue that the government has considered very seriously. We have worked overtime to map all aspects of the sale,” Mæland said.

Clearing away uncertainty

Prior to the statement, Mæland announced that she would “clear away all uncertainty” around the disputed sale.

“Our assessment is that the technology Bergen Engines possesses and the engines they produce would have great military and strategic significance for Russia,” Mæland said, pointing out that Russia has had great challenges in gaining access to such technology since the sanctions were introduced in 2014.

“In addition, the sale would have been accompanied by a large property with a significant building stock. The strategic location towards the northern entrance to Bergen and defense installations of significance to Norway and allied nations is also important to the case,” the Minister of Justice stated.

Kremlin oligarchs

In February, it was announced that Rolls-Royce had entered into an agreement worth NOK 1.6 billion with the Russian-controlled company TMH International to sell the Bergen Engines engine factory at Hordvikneset.

The oligarchs who own the company are believed to have close ties to the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.

Bergen Engines has made engines for a number of Norwegian defense ships and has maintenance agreements with both the Armed Forces and several other NATO countries, including the United States.

In December, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was notified of the sale. The ministry says they forwarded the notification to the secret services, while the Prime Minister’s Office (SMK) was notified in early February.

After much media attention, Rolls-Royce put sales on hold on March 9, and the government has said that they are considering using the Security Act to stop the sale permanently.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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