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The Norwegian church's investment fund violates its own guidelines

Through Opplysningsvesenets Fond (the Norwegian church fund for investments) (OVF) the Norwegian Church and the Ministry of Church, Education, and Research (KUF) have invested in several big companies. On the list we find, among others, Norsk Hydro, Norske Skog, Veidekke, Orkla, and Saga Petroleum. The companies in which the church has invested its money, are involved in many projects which imply forced relocation of indigenous peoples, environmental scandals and arms trade. They are also involved in several countries with regimes which cannot be said to be very much liked by the "ecclesial opinion", such as Libya and Iran.
Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.
Through Opplysningsvesenets Fond (the Norwegian church fund for investments) (OVF) the Norwegian Church and the Ministry of Church, Education, and Research (KUF) have invested in several big companies. On the list we find, among others, Norsk Hydro, Norske Skog, Veidekke, Orkla, and Saga Petroleum. The companies in which the church has invested its money, are involved in many projects which imply forced relocation of indigenous peoples, environmental scandals and arms trade. They are also involved in several countries with regimes which cannot be said to be very much liked by the "ecclesial opinion", such as Libya and Iran.

By Tarjei Leer-Salvesen and Morten Rønning

The capital of the fund originates from the sales of vicarages and other church property. Today a part of the money is profits from dealing in shares on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The intention is that some of the surplus is to be reinvested and some of it transferred to different kinds of ecclesial activity. The fund's guidelines say, among other things:

"When dealing in shares one must take social and ethical factors into consideration, and investments which are assumed disapproved of by a considerable part of the ecclesial opinion must be avoided. Shares shall not be acquired in companies which have all or a major part of their activity in arms-, tobacco-, or brewery industry."

In newsletter 3/98 NorWatch revealed that Kvaerner is involved in the arms company Techno Arms in South Africa, which is negotiating an arms contract worth 220 millions with Sierra Leone. OVF's response was to sell their Kvaerner shares a few days after the disclosure.

Now it becomes clear that Kvaerner was not the only arms-related investment which is contributing to the financing of ecclesial activities in Norway. The fund is also involved in several other companies which would probably be disapproved by a considerable part of the ecclesial opinion.

One example of current interest is Norsk Hydro, a major investor in the Utkal project in India - a new bauxite mine and alumina plant which will ruin the livelihood of thousands of people who belong to different indigenous groups. The Church Council (Committee for international questions) has recently made a statement where they severely criticize Hydro's involvement in Utkal. Other ecclesial critics of this project is the Lutheran Church in India, a local Christian aid organisation, and the Strømme foundation and the Norwegian Church Aid.

Another example is Orkla, with a share worth almost 70 million in the arms producer Raufoss. At the turn of the year OVF owned 17,000 shares in Orkla, and since then they have bought another thousand shares, says deputy director Jan Ove Tidem in KUF, the vicarage section of the Church Fund.

Some time ago the fund discussed the investment in Orkla with the church because Pripps Ringnes, in which Orkla is the sole owner, is market leader within the sale of beer in both Sweden and Norway. They arrived at the conclusion that since Orkla is involved in so many other activities, too, the sale of beer represented such a small percentage of the company's revenue that they let it pass. (This is the same argument that was used by Storebrand's Environmental Fund when they made an investment in the mining giant Rio Tinto, which is the world's market leader in uranium. The Environmental Fund was not to invest in nuclear-related industry, but in their opinion, since Rio Tinto was involved in so many other activities, the sale of uranium would only be a small part of the total sales.)

- What is your comment on the information below on the record of some of the companies in which the fund has invested?

- I thank you for the initiative and will pass it on to the Church Council for comments, answers Jan Ove Tidem.

Norsk Hydro ASA
Hydro is Norway's second largest multinational company measured by turnover and is established with offices in more than a hundred countries. The company's main areas of production are fertilizers, light metals, seafood, petrochemical industry, oil and gas. The company is a large producer of the controversial plastic PVC.

The Utkal project
To secure control over a greater part of the raw material supplies to the aluminium plants in Western Norway, Hydro is involved in planning a new bauxite mine and a new alumina plant in the Eastern state Orissa in India. The investment budget of the project is between 7 and 8 billion kroner (approx. 1 billion USD). Utkal Alumina is 100% export oriented, and its main source of power is coal.

Criticism: Approximately 750 people are forcibly moved, and another 1750 people will lose valuable cultivated land. Most of them are indigenous people, Adivasians.

The environmental effects are extensive, primarily in the form of seizure of land for waste disposal sites, roads, railway, plant and houses for more than a thousand new workers. In addition, the coal-fired plants will lead to emissions of some greenhouse gases, NOx and sulphur into the local environment. On top of this Utkal will seize large amounts of water, which is already a scarce resource in the area. And additional amounts of water are threatened by possible effluents and accidents.

The project has been planned for seven years, but the local population has not been included in a democratic decision-making process. Most of the important documents in the case are kept secret, such as the environmental impact assessment and the rehabilitation plan. Several Adivasians have been threatened, in some cases with firearms, to sign documents in which they accept sale of land to the company. During protest demonstrations against the plans, many have been arrested. Even the demonstrators' children have been reported to the police.

More than five thousand local peasants have written letters to Norwegian authorities and asked them to make Hydro withdraw from the Utkal project.

(See also NorWatch 1/96, 4/96, 10/96, 8/97, 11/97, 4/98 and Folkevett 5/95, 2/96, 3/97, 6/97).
"When dealing in shares one must take social and ethical factors into consideration, and investments which are assumed disapproved of by a considerable part of the ecclesial opinion must be avoided. Shares shall not be acquired in companies which have all or a major part of their activity in arms-, tobacco-, or brewery industry."
From the guidelines of the Norwegian church investment fund.

Since the 1970s Hydro has had a 5% share in the bauxite mine Mineracao Rio do Norte (MRN) in the Brazilian Amazon. In addition to the mining, Hydro and their partners have supported the establishment of two nature reserves in the area.

Criticism: 92 Quilombo families have been forced to move as a result of the bauxite mine. The Quilombo people are descendants of African slaves who escaped into the Amazon from the coast in the 1500s to 1800s. In 1995 thousands of Quilombos risked forced movement because of a dam in association with the mine and the other industry in the area, plus an extension of the mine. However, some of the Quilombos have secured their land rights later on.

The conflict between the mining company and the Quilombos reached its peak when the Quilombo de Jesus was shot and killed by a guard attached to IBAMA. The guard was to see to it that nobody hunted or gathered  in the nature reserves sponsored by the company. The Quilombo people depends on hunting, fishing, and gathering to continue their way of life, and such a practice of the rules of the nature reserve deprives them of their livelihood.

(See also Folkevett 5/95 and NorWatch 1/96).

Hydro is involved in a bauxite and alumina project in Guinea called Friguia. The plant was established in the 1960s, and Hydro bought shares in the 1980s. The mine is an open-cast mine and has concession for an area of 1152 square kilometres. It can be run for another 200 years with today's rate of production.

Criticism: The company has forcibly moved several villages, but the number of affected people is unknown. It has been impossible to have details on how much is paid as compensation when someone is forcibly moved, or how this has been carried out. In the future even more people will have to move as the mine is being extended. 16-18,000 people are still living within the concession area.

The local population complains of their cattle being run down by the company's cars, and dying from eating remainders of explosive charges which originate from the mining. They are not paid any compensation.

But still worse, about seven people are killed each year because of poor security arrangements around the private railway where Friguia sends out its alumina for export to, among other countries, Norway. In the worst year 31 people were killed by this train.

The most conspicuous environmental problem is an enormous red mud deposit, which covers an entire valley. In this valley there were previously several villages, which are now drowned in industrial waste. Hydro admits that this deposit is not "state of the art", for example it is not secured with a protective membrane to prevent leakage of caustic soda and other effluents into the subsoil water. The subsoil water has not been tested.
(See also Folkevett 3/96).

Double standards and polluted environment
Twice during 1997 The Future in our Hands (FIVH) revealed Hydro's double standards of using environmental poisons in their production abroad. One instance was use of cadmium as additive in plastics in India. Cadmium is known as a serious environmental and health hazard and is prohibited in this kind of plastics production in Norway. In spite of this Hydro ordered its Indian partner to use precisely this substance in their production.

The second instance occurred when Scotland liberalized its regulations for use of ivermectin, a controversial poison for the combatting of salmon lice. Hydro Seafoods planned to use ivermectin, which in addition to killing the salmon lice also kills many other sea-animals and which can also cause damages to the embryos of pregnant women and to breast-fed children. The poison is prohibited in Norway.

When FIVH raised the issue in India, Hydro promised to find alternatives to cadmium. They also consider whether to avoid the use of ivermectin in Scotland. However, both cases illustrate that Hydro has poor control routines in this field, and that the company is not practising the same environmental standards abroad as they are at home.

(See also NorWatch 3/97 and 4/97, and also Folkevett 1/97 and 2/97).

Controversial regimes
Hydro is one of the few Norwegian companies involved in Iran and Libya.

Moreover, Hydro is the major shareholder of Dyno Industrier, holding approximately 40% of the shares.

Dyno Industrier
Dyno is one of Norway's largest industrial companies with three business areas: Explosives, chemical industry, and plastics. The company owns, wholly or partly, more than 100 companies in 35 countries all over the world. Nearly 90% of Dyno's sales are outside Norway.

Papua New Guinea
Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific delivers explosives to the gold mine Porgera in Papua New Guinea. The explosives are produced locally.

Criticism: The gold mine Porgera is in conflict with the local indigenous people concerning compensation and pollution. Tests have established that the water in the river has a high content of several heavy metals, but the company is not subject to any restrictions concerning effluents of mercury. At the same time the authorities have written off the upper 140 kilometres of the Strickland river as "sacrifice-zone", and the company is not instructed to carry out any tests along this stretch of the river, which is inhabited by 7000 people.

Both independent researchers and local health authorities have established that deaths have occurred as result of heavy metals which are concentrated in sago and pork. At the same time fruit and vegetables do not grow very well in the area because of the pollution. The deposit of mud in the river bed has also increased the speed of the river, which makes it more difficult to use for transportation.

As a result of lack of compensation payments for use of the local population's territory, the locals closed the mine in August 1996. More than a hundred indigenous people were arrested by the police and the security guards of the mine during the following riots. Later on, half of them escaped from the local police station. During the escape two people were killed.

In the autumn of 1997 the local population took the company to court. However, the company has still only paid a small amount of the compensation the local population has been awarded by the judicial system.

(See also NW newsletter 6/96, 7/96 and 18/97).

Until1997 the same company delivered explosives to the Freeport mine in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. The company lost the contract but is hoping to win it back.

Criticism: Until 1997 Dyno supplied the Grasberg mine in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, with explosives. The company has signalled that they are struggling to win the contract back. The mine, which is owned by Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto, has in recent years been subject to harsh criticism from environmentalists and human rights activists internationally.

The situation of the mine is more or less identical with the situation of the Porgera mine in the neighbouring country. The local population is criticizing the mine both for exploitation of their territory, and for heavy pollution of the Aykwa river.

Indonesian authorities have beat heavily down on protests from the indigenous people, and they have sent troops to the island after the unrest of the spring 1996. The Indonesian commission for human rights (KOMNAS) admitted in 1996 that there had been at least 16 killings in the area, and that there had also been reports of serious torture.

In the autumn 1997 the conflict intensified again, and at least 4 indigenous people were killed. At the same time KOMNAS initiated investigation of allegation of torture and rapes.

(See also NW newsletter 2/96 and 17/97).

In 1996 3% of the operating revenue of the company's explosives section stemmed from defence products, and this represents 7-8% of the revenues in Norway. The production includes military explosives, rocket composition and fuel for artillery.

Criticism: Dyno Industrier in Norway produces explosives for military purposes, both for the Norwegian market and for export. The company claims that it only exports to Norway's allies, but in several cases the explosives have "gone astray". Here are some examples:

From 1988 to 1991 the company delivered 164.5 tonnes of military explosives to Yugoslavia, enough for 40.000 high-explosive shells. The last train cargo left Norway in May 1991, a few days before the war broke out, and it was obvious that a conflict was inevitable.

Until 1989 Dyno exported approximately 600 tonnes of explosives to the Greek company PYR-KAL. In the same period this company delivered nearly one million shells to Iraq.

In 1994 Dyno exported the armour-piercing explosive Octol to Turkey. At that time the country was engaged in war against Curd rebels.

Until 1993 Dyno produced detonators for landmines in the USA. In 1996 the company was pressured by Human Rights Watch to dissociate themselves from this kind of production in the future.

(Source: Norwegian arms trade, Bjørnar Berg/Folkereisning mot krig 1996. See also NW newsletter 9/96).

Dyno's explosives plant in Malaysia supplies and collaborates with the state-owned arms producer Malaysia Explosives.

Criticism: In 1997 employees in Dyno's Malaysian subsidiary Tenaga Kimia (30%) confirmed to NorWatch that the company both sells explosives and equipment, and tests explosives for the state-owned Malaysian arms producer SME Ordnance (SMEO). This is also confirmed by SMEO. Dyno in Norway has admitted that there has been some minor interaction between the companies, but they deny that they are engaged in a major collaborative relationship.

(See also NW newsletter 2/97 and 3/97).

Norske Skog
The company is Norway's largest company within the forestry industry. Norske Skog owns and operates some forest of its own, but it is also the largest buyer of timber for its sawmills and cellulose plants in Norway. Most of the company's activity takes place in Norway, but both trade with and investments in other countries represent a growing part of the company's activity.

Gas-fired power station
The company is planning the construction of a gas-fired power station for its plant in Skogn.

Criticism: The plant will replace the use of Norwegian hydroelectricity. Norwegian environmental organisations have worked actively against construction of gas-fired power stations in Norway because this will lead to increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, they argue in principle against the introduction of a new, fossil source of energy in the country.

Recycled paper
Naturvernforbundet (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature / Friends of the Earth Norway) labels Norske Skog as backward regarding use of recycled paper in their products.

Felling of timber
Norske Skog and their subsidiary Norsk Virke claim that they will not buy timber from the so-called "gross list" for protection of Norwegian forest areas. Naturvernforbundet thinks the company is about to improve their behaviour in this field, but that there are still much obscurity around this policy.

Criticism: In recent years Norske Skog has been involved in several cases of controversial felling in Norway, including areas with types of wood which are on the international "red list" of types worth preserving. Here are some examples:

- Skotjernfjell
Skotjernfjell is a small forest area which has been given status as worthy of preservation by the Ministry of the Environment. In 1994 the forest owner carried out plain felling in the area. Environmentalists from Nature and Youth and Naturvernforbundet protested against the felling. Norske Skog bought timber from the forest owner to their plant in Follum.

- Near-shore rainforest in Troendelag
The near-shore rainforest in Troendelag is a unique type of forest, which Norway has an international responsibility to preserve. In February 1995 valuable parts of this forest were felled, and Norske Skog bought parts of the timber.

When Naturvernforbundet is asked to sum up their criticism against Norske Skog and its use of timber from areas worthy of preservation, Gjermund Andersen, responsible for forest issues, answers:

- They buy timber without knowing where it comes from. In this way they happen to support controversial felling projects, and they may contribute to the destruction of large natural valuables.

Orkla is the fifth largest company in Norway measured by turnover. They have their main activities within chemical industry, trade mark-goods, and financial investments.

Chemical industry
Borregaard, owned by Orkla, holds 55% of the shares in Borregaard Taichang Chemicals which produces the pesticide carbofuran. The plant in China was opened in 1995.

Criticism: Carbofuran has been prohibited in Norway since the 1980s owing to environmental considerations.

The production process involves, among other things, the use of the highly dangerous gas MIC, the same gas that killed more than 10,000 Indians in Bhopal in 1984. In 1997 Borregaard applied to NORAD for financial support for a security system precisely for its MIC gas in the China plant, but NORAD refused and argued that the proposed plant would be too insecure.

(See also NorWatch 1/96 and 9/97).

Orkla owns 10% of Raufoss Arms Factory. Raufoss produces, among other things, ammunition (for handguns, shells, artillery, and anti-tank defences), M-72 rockets, rocket engines, and warheads. The military sales of Raufoss amounted to 612 million kroner in 1995.

In addition Orkla owns 18.1% of Dyno, which is involved in arms production in Malaysia and Norway (see the section on Dyno).

Source: Berg-FMK: Norwegian arms trade (96).

Orkla is really a big investor on the Norwegian stock market. Among the companies they own shares in are DnB, Dyno, Kvaerner, Bergesen, Norsk Hydro, Leif Hoegh, Norske Skog, Aker RGI, Saga Petroleum, and a countless number of others. Orkla shows that an investment in one company can imply that one gets involved in far more industries than expected beforehand. Through the investment in Orkla the fund has consolidated their investments in Dyno's arms production and in Hydro's controversial bauxite projects, and on top of all that indirectly become a shareholder in Kvaerner again, which they sold off because of Kvaerner's share in the arms company Techno Arms in South Africa.

For the Church it should be interesting that Orkla now owns 100% of Pripps Ringnes, against 45% previously. Pripps Ringnes is market leader within the sale of beer in both Sweden and Norway.

Veidekke is a firm of contractors with activity within construction, asphalt, and real estate. The company's activity abroad is mainly handled through the subsidiaries Noremco and NOCON, and through Advisory Group of Norway.

Three Gorges
Veidekke's subsidiary Korsbrekke (60% share) are experts on asphalt cores in dams, and by the end of 1996 they delivered an asphalt core machine to the Three Gorges development in China. The contract, which has a GIEK (The guarantee-institute for export credits) guarantee, is worth 4-5 million kroner.

The contract is handled by Advisory group of Norway (AGN) which is owned by Veidekke, Selmer, and Norconsult. AGN has also had two advisors on mountain securing on the project.

Criticism: The Three Gorges development on the Yangtse river, with a main dam of 185 metres height, will turn 600 kilometres of the river into a lake, and be the world's largest hydroelectric power station. 1.3 million people will have to move. This is probably the largest movement ever caused by a single project.

At the same time the development threatens many rare species of animals in the area, among others the panda, the Chinese river dolphin, the alligator, and the white Siberian crane. The damming up of the river will threaten the bamboo forest and the riverside vegetation, which among others the panda and the white crane subsist on.

The Chinese journalist and environmentalist Dai Quing, who has visited Norway and had meetings with the business community in connection with the Three Gorges, warns Western companies against getting involved in the project because of the human rights situation and the environmental consequences. She edited the book Yangtze! Yangtze!, in which many researchers and other professionals protested actively against the project, according to FIVAS. The book has been banned by Chinese authorities.

The human rights organisation Human Rights Watch has urged all companies and governments which are involved in the project to demand guarantees that the human rights are complied with in connection with the forced relocation of people and the debate on the project. In 1995 the organisation asked for information on the fate of 179 people who were detained at a protest against the development in the state of Sichuan in May 1992.

Prime Minister Bondevik has raised criticism against the project, but in the autumn of 1997 he stated to FIVAS that he still had no intention of intervening in GIEK's involvement in the project. GIEK has also given guarantees for turbine deliveries from Kvaerner worth 280 million kroner.

There is a major international campaign against the project, which has an estimated construction period of 20 years. The World Bank has refused to support the project, and many countries have also refused to support deliveries to the dam. For one thing, the American National Security Council has decided that American authorities are not to participate in the project, while the state-owned US Export-Import Bank has refused to issue guarantees for deliveries. When the case was being considered by the People's Congress in 1992, it was the first time such a large minority voted against a government proposal.

(See also NW newsletter 7/97).

Bergesen d.y.
Bergesen d.y. ASA is one of Norway's largest shipping companies, with 95 vessels. The shipping company has concentrated on gas vessels, U/VLCC, and dry cargo vessels in particular. In addition the shipping company has investments in finance and real estate.

Criticism: The Church sold out all its Kvaerner ASA shares because of the company's share in the South African company Techno Arms. In spite of this, the Church is still a co-owner of Bergesen, Kvaerner's major shareholder.

NorWatch has also criticized Kvaerner for many blameworthy circumstances in association with deliveries of hydroelectric power turbines to among other places the Three Gorges in China and LHWP in Lesotho, and also for deliveries of cellulose plants to Indonesia and of a plant to a gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

(See also NW newsletter 7/97 ,12/97 and 17/97, and 2/98 and 3/98).

Den norske Bank
Den norske Bank (DnB) is Norway's largest financial corporation. The bank was the largest privately owned bank until the banking crisis in the late 1980s. Today the government has a share of 51%. The bank is a major operator within finance and real property. The total assets of DnB and its subsidiaries are approximately 224 billion kroner.

Aracruz Celulose
DnB owns 20% of the Brazilian company Lorentzen Empreendimentos, which owns 28% of the A-shares of the Brazilian Aracruz Celulose. DnB also owns slightly less than 1% of Aracruz Celulose.

Criticism: The Guarani and Tupinikim Indians in Brazil claim that Aracruz Celulose illegally seized territories belonging to them in 1967. A total of five villages were forcibly moved and levelled with the ground. They have struggled to have their territory returned for many years, and among others the Brazilian office for Indian matters (FUNAI) has agreed with their claims. At the moment the issue depends on the authorities of the country. The Indians have signalled that they may occupy the areas if their demands are not met.

Aracruz, which is the world's largest cellulose producer, has ruined the former rainforest areas and planted eucalyptus there instead. The Indians in the area claim that the activities of the company have destroyed the soil and dried up the rivers.

At the same time Aracruz Celulose has big problems with its own trade union, which claims that the company denies them fundamental rights. The trade union is, moreover, supporting the Indian's demands.

(See also NW newsletter 6/96, 3/97, 5/97, 6/97, 7/97, 10/97, 11/97, 12/97 and 18/97).

Saga Petroleum
Saga Petroleum is one of the largest upstream oil and gas companies world-wide. The company also has considerable reserves and production in the Norwegian and British sections of the Continental Shelf.

Saga has been involved in oil production in Libya since 1995. The company has been given clearance signal from the Norwegian authorities to invest 400 million kroner in the country. In the autumn 1997 a Saga employee was appointed Norwegian consul in Libya, a post which had been vacant since the Lockerbie accident.

Criticism: Amnesty International summoned up the human rights situation in the country in the following way in June 1997: "Serious violations of human rights are taking place in Libya. Not only are they without legal consequences for the criminals, but they are also approved of by the highest-ranking authorities; in shameful contrast to the country's obligations to human rights.

In recent years hundreds of suspected opponents of the government have been arbitrarily arrested, often without a warrant, and they have been kept isolated and been tortured during the first months. Most of them have been imprisoned without prosecution and sentence, some of them for at least 15 years, while others are still incarcerated even though they are found not guilty. Political opponents are frequently victims of non-judicial executions. Many have been killed, both in the country and abroad, and there are strong suspicions of non-judicial executions."

The UN's Security Council adopted sanctions against Libya in 1992, as a result of the allegations that Libyan terrorists were responsible for the Lockerbie accident. At the same time, the USA has decided on sanctions against companies which are involved in the country, in the same way as with Iraq.

Opplysningsvesenets Fond
The fund (OVF) was founded in 1821 to administer the property of the Church. The fund's "initial capital" was vicarages, the church's forests and some offices and other properties, and money from the sale of these. In the late 1980s the fund started financial investments and made a profit on stocks and bonds. When this happened, Special Fund II was established with a board of representatives from KUF and the Church Council. Special Fund II administered the part of OVF's surplus which was transferred to ecclesial activities. The special fund was wound up when a revision of the law on administration of the Church's properties which took effect on 1.1.98, and the trust unit's functions and capital were returned to OVF. This year approximately 19 million kroner will be transferred to the church from this fund. This equals about a third of the net surplus from the share capital. OVF has more than 20 employees and is administratively placed under the Ministry of Church, Education, and Research.

The investments of the Church Fund:
Below is a survey of the value of the investments of the fund in the mentioned companies. The numbers of shares are as per 31.12.97; the stock-exchange rates are as per 3.3.98.

Company Number of shares Value
Norsk Hydro 29,600 10.3 million kroner
Den norske bank 90,000 3.8 million kroner
Bergesen d.y A 5,000 825.000 kroner
Bergesen d.y B 30,000 4.9 million kroner
Dyno Industrier 10,000 1.28 million kroner
Veidekke 30,000  8.82 million kroner
Orkla B 17,000 11.3 million kroner
Norske Skog A 16,100 3.86 million kroner
Norske Skog B 9,000 2.0 million kroner

The number of shares in Saga Petroleum is unknown. We would like to point out that the fund has sold out its shares in Dyno Industrier since the beginning of this year, but it is still shareholder in Dyno's major owner, Norsk Hydro.

Norwatch Newsletter 6/98