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Coastal steamer firms merge

The two shipowning companies that provide the vessels for Norway's famed coastal steamer service merged on Friday over the objections of one major shareholder. The merger is the largest ever in Northern Norway.

The new company will be called Nord-Norges Dampskipsselskap (NNDS) and it will continue to run the popular liner service Hurtigruten that calls at ports from Bergen to Kirkenes.

It was formed by OVDS of Narvik and TFDS of Tromsø and will now boast annual revenues of NOK 6.5 billion and 3,500 employees. The two firms earlier cooperated on the coastal steamer service but competed in offshore and ferry service.

The Hurtigruten and offshore operations will now be handled from Tromsø, while ferries and fast ferries will be run from Narvik.

Employees generally supported the merger and more than 90 percent of shares in the two firms were voted in favor of the deal.

It was opposed, however, by shareholder Tor Halvard Alvestad who wanted to keep the firms separate and competitive. Alvestad suggested he may still try to block the deal in court.