The Norwegian government has temporarily suspended the sale of Rolls-Royce-owned Bergen Engines. The sale had been agreed between Rolls-Royce and a company controlled by Russia’s TMH Group as Rolls-Royce looks to reduce the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the British engine maker.
Located in Bergen on the west coast of Norway, Bergen Engines is currently responsible for supplying the country’s navy, with Norway being a member of NATO. “There is significant uncertainty in relation to national security interests, and this uncertainty must be dealt with,” Justice Minister Monica Maeland announced at a news conference. “We don’t know which conclusion we will draw.”
TMH Group has confirmed that it will cooperate with Norwegian authorities and was optimistic that the sale will still go through. “We are fully aware of and take seriously our export control compliance obligations,” TMH said, adding that: “This will include those obligations that relate to Bergen Engines, relating to the protection of any controlled technology including to prevent it being used for unauthorized end use.”
A Rolls-Royce spokesman commented: “We understand, however, that the Norwegian Government wishes to further investigate the deal and Rolls-Royce will co-operate in any way we can with that review. As requested, we have paused the sales process.”
According to Jakub Godzimirski, a research professor at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs: “It must be decided under Norway’s security law whether the new owners would get access to sensitive information,” adding that: “If a Russian firm acquires a leading maker of engines, it could also give the Russian navy access to new technology.” Bergen Engines makes medium-speed gas and diesel engines for the marine and power generation sector, employing approximately 950 people and generating US$332 million in revenue in 2019.