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16 September 2013

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Amendments to company legislation approved

On 14 June 2013, the parliament approved the amendments to the Law on Private Companies (Aksjeloven) and Law on Public Companies (Allmennaksjeloven). The main amendments, which became effective from 1 July 2013, from the viewpoint of taxation are summarized below.

The amendments:

-   are designed to curb the use of foreign "off the shelf" companies, i.e. a foreign corporation registered in Norway (norskregistrert utenlandsk foretak, NUF);
-   modify the rules on dividend distribution with the intention of providing a stronger legal link to a company's actual capital situation as opposed to its annual accounts;
-   relax the rules on how company accounts should be formulated and board meetings held, and the rules under which Norwegian companies may offer loans to foreign parents;
-   currently, the rules on dividend distribution are closely linked to formal accounting entities for the prior year's financial accounts and less so to the company's actual capital situation. The new distribution rules seek to reflect the actual capital situation to a higher degree. Thus, certain balance sheet items (the book value of goodwill, deferred tax assets etc.) will no longer reduce the distributable equity. For loans, etc. that require free equity, any repayment after the balance sheet date will be taken into account in the calculation of distributable equity. However, this does not apply to the company's own shares; and
-   remove the requirement of notice to creditors when the equity is below 10% of the balance sheet total. Instead, the board of directors and management are required to assess whether the distribution to shareholders is in breach of the requirement for sufficient equity. In addition, the assessment of the company's liquidity after the distribution is required.

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