As others debate public beneficial ownership registers, Norway tax authorities publish details of all residents’ equity holdings

The Norwegian tax authority,  Skatteetaten, has published its latest annually updated database containing the full details of individuals’ equity securities holdings in Norway, which is accessible via a number of online search portals.

The tax authority, which employs some 6,500 staff, is a part of Norway’s Ministry of Finance, and is tasked with maintaining and updating key databases, including the country’s National Registry, which holds information of everyone who currently resides, or has resided, in the country.

Unusually, compared with other countries, its equity securities holdings database is searchable by individuals’ names and post codes, as well by their lower and upper age limits.

This transparency will seem all the more extraordinary this year, as countries around the world debate the degree to which beneficial ownership registers should be accessible. In the UK, for example, there has been a running debate about whether the UK should force its  Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to establish publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership by 2019. Some of these jurisdictions have argued against such a high degree of transparency, arguing that it isn’t necessary in order to combat financial crime.

In Norway, though, the stock ownership of individuals is a matter of public record.

A search of the database using the name ‘Bjørn Kjos’, the chief executive  of the Norwegian Air airline, for example, produces the following information about the CEO’s holdings:

Direct ownership

NameSharesShare class%
SNEISUNGEN HOLDING AS1 800Ordinary shares90%
SNEISUNGEN AS49 000Ordinary shares49%
OBSERVATORIET INVEST AS48B-shares24%
OBSERVATORIET INVEST AS15C-shares7.5%
OBSERVATORIET INVEST AS2A-shares1%
NORWEGIAN AIR SHUTTLE ASA42 9030,.2%
CONTEXTVISION AB1 7000.022%
ORKLA ASA975ca 0%
REC SILICON ASA750ca 0%

In this list, “HBK Holdings” is key, because it is through HBK that Kjos retains a significant share in “Norwegian” branded businesses, including the airline, but also ancillary services as well as the branded bank.

Holdings of Norway’s ‘richest’ 

The database also makes it possible to explore the holdings of some of Norway’s richest individuals, including Johan Johannson, Stein Eirik Hagen, Odd Reitan and Olav Thon.

Similarly, searches can also be done by company name, to identify the holdings companies maintain in other companies. This means it is possible to track cross-holdings between companies, and identify individuals who own stakes in other businesses, but who remain the ultimate beneficiaries. This is also true for owners of local asset management businesses.

For example, on a search in the database of Odin Forvaltning AS – a member of the Norwegian Fund and Asset Management Association (VFF) – shows that it is 100% owned by Sparebank 1 Gruppen AS.

However, another local asset manager, Pareto Asset Management AS, has a more developed ownership structure:

NameSharesShare class%
PARETO AS224 22286.184%
EL FINANS AS9 7363.742%
FEB INVEST AS7 3142.811%
SKRÅRUDSETHER INVEST AS7 3142.811%
CADDIE INVEST AS6 7842.608%
EKVOLD KRISTIN1 1990.461%
FELINE AS1 1990.461%
HAUGAN ANDERS1 1990.461%
ØAA-INVEST AS1 1990.461%

From the database, it is possible to find out that Pareto AS, in turn, is owned by:

NameSharesShare clas%
STØLE SVEIN35 000A-shares92.105%
SVELE AS3 000B-shares7.895%

This type of search is possible for other members of VFF, such as Forte Fondsforvaltning AS, Holberg Fondsforvaltning AS, SR-Forvaltning AS, and Storebrand Asset Management AS, meaning it is possible to identify the individuals who may benefit most from growth in the Norwegian fund industry.

It is also possible, though, to determine with a fair degree of accuracy, at least, the extent of a key portion of the wealth of some of Norway’s richest residents.

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