From E24 Translation, and editing by Netsnacks.

When everyone else sells shares in panic, the Norwegian government is purchasing. Since the global financial crisis went into earnest eight weeks ago, the state's two pension funds bought shares of companies on the Oslo Stock Exchange for over 12 billion kroner (1.8 billion USD).

Last week, the government bought 7 million shares through the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, in the Norwegian oil company Statoil-Hydro for 850 million kroner (124 million USD). The acquisition comes on top of a large number of trades on declining stock prices. Since September 1, the government has bought 59 million shares in the company, to over 7.7 billion kroner (1.1 billion USD).

"It's reassuring for the tax payers that the government buys shares for several reasons in the falling stock markets. Purchases have come in small portions, and it appears that they have a very good average," said a Statoil-Hydro analyst.

In February, Parliament gave the Department of Petroleum and Energy, authority to increase the state's share in Statoil-Hydro from 62.5 to 67 percent. The stock acquisition is financed with funds from the Government's Pension Fund Global. Including last week's buying, the government's ownership interest is now 65.22 percent, the highest proportion since the merger of Statoil and Hydro was concluded.

The Government's Pension Fund Norway, which is managed by the National Fund, has also used the past week's powerful stock market fall, to dramatically increase their share in other Norwegian companies.

The shareholder lists show that the Social Fund will have now have increased their holdings, from net purchased shares, totaling 4 billion kroner (580 million USD) in selected companies in the past eight weeks. At year-end the market value of the Fund's holdings in these companies was 53 billion kroner (7.7 billion USD).


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