Why the state is an owner

The state should only have ownership interests in companies when this is the best means of meeting the state’s needs.

Ole Jørgen Bratland, Equnior
Credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland, Equnior

The companies with a state ownership interest can roughly be divided into three groups based on how the state came to own them: Business activities initiated by the state, existing businesses that were taken over by the state and the production of goods and services by state-owned undertakings.

The rationale for state ownership in companies today can be divided into two groups. The first group comprises companies that primarily operate in competition with others. The rationale for state ownership in these companies includes the positive spillover effects of maintaining head office functions in Norway, civil protection and emergency preparedness, a failure in parts of the capital market, and ownership of natural resources. The second group comprises rationale to organise state tasks through a company. Such rationale include giving a business greater operational autonomy or professional independence. These companies do not primarily operate in competition with others, and the alternative to state ownership is often to organise the business as a government agency.

The State’s uses state ownership when this is an expedient measure.