(Adds detail, government comments)
STOCKHOLM Oct 13 Sweden and Norway said on
Thursday they had sold 23 million shares in SAS in a
first step toward the governments exiting their long-standing
holdings in the Scandinavian airline.
* The shares sold at 15.5 Swedish crowns per share. SAS
shares traded at 15.6 crowns by 0832, down 4.9 percent from
Wednesday's closing price of 16.4 crowns.
* Sweden sold 13.8 million or 4.2 percent of SAS shares for
214 million Swedish crowns ($24.8 million) to institutional
investors. Norway sold 9.2 million or 2.7 percent of shares for
143 million Swedish crowns.
* Sweden remains SAS' biggest owner following the sale with
a 17.2 percent stake while Norway holds 11.5
* Norway's and Sweden's industry ministers said in separate
statements they would take into consideration market
developments and SAS' situation ahead of any potential future
* Swedish industry minister Mikael Damberg said: "The
Swedish state shouldn't be a long-term owner in a listed airline
and the government sees that a changed ownership will strengthen
* SAS, hit by competition from budget carriers such as
Norwegian and Ryanair, has long been seen as a
potential takeover candidate. Sources told Reuters in April
Lufthansa was considering a partnership with, or buying a stake
* The Danish government said separately on Thursday it
currently had no plans to sell its 14.3 percent stake in SAS.
* Sweden and Norway have agreed a 180-day' lock-up period
during which they will not sell further shares in SAS.
* Sweden said it would use proceeds to pay down government
debt while Norway said proceeds would be transferred to the
* Sweden, Norway and Denmark had owned roughly 50 pct of SAS
since its creation in 1946.
($1 = 8.6231 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Stockholm and Oslo newsrooms, writing by Anna
Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)