Norway prevents sale of Rolls-Royce plant to Russian oligarchs
The Norwegian government has temporarily halted the sale of the Rolls-Royce factory Bergen Engines to the Russian TMH International. She doesn’t want to play Russian roulette with national security.
Norway is suspending the planned sale of the Rolls-Royce factory Bergen Engines to the Russian group for security reasons. It first wants to investigate to what extent the sale endangers national security, Justice Minister Monica Maeland said on Tuesday. ‘This is serious business. At the moment there is too much uncertainty and we have to deal with that first, ”she said.
The owners of THM Group own shares in the weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov and are not unaffected by corruption and respect for human rights.
The case has been stirring Norwegian politics since early February, when Rolls-Royce announced that it was selling the factory for 150 million euros to TMH International, the international arm of the Russian train manufacturer TMH Group. The sale is in line with the British carmaker’s efforts to get its finances in order after the corona pandemic.
The factory in question, Bergen Engines, makes large diesel and gas engines that are mainly used in ships. His main clients are the Norwegian Coast Guard, but also the Norwegian spy ship Marjata, which is used by the Norwegian security forces to monitor Russian activities at sea. The US Navy also uses engines from the factory.
Because Bergen Engines is also responsible for the maintenance of the engines, critics fear that the Russians will get hold of sensitive information when they come to carry out maintenance work on the ships. At the same time, they suspect that the technology from the factory will be used to strengthen Russian defense. The largest producer of Russian warships, United Shipbuilding Corporation, announced that it wants to work with new owner TMH Group on a new diesel engine.
The main owners of TMH Group, Iskander Makhmudov and Andrej Boharev, are also causing concern. These are two Russian oligarchs with close ties to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian security services. Both own shares in the Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov and are not unaffected by corruption and respect for human rights.
Rolls-Royce announced on Tuesday that it awaited the analysis of the Norwegian government. “We have notified the government of the sale through the usual channels,” said spokesman Richard Wray on Tuesday. “We want to cooperate fully with the investigation and have paused the sales process.”