Shareholders' equity

The group shareholders' equity at 31 December 2009 was NOK 198.3 billion, which represented 35% of the group's total assets. The board considers this satisfactory given the group's requirement for solidity in relation to its expressed goals, strategy and risk profile.

Dividend policy

The board of directors has decided to adjust the company's dividend policy in order to create a more predictable dividend level going forward.

It is Statoil's ambition to grow the annual cash dividend, measured in NOK per share in line with long term underlying earnings. When deciding the annual dividend level, the Board will take into consideration expected cash flow, capital expenditure plans, financing requirements and appropriate financial flexibility.

In addition to cash dividend, Statoil might buy back shares as part of total distribution of capital to the shareholders

The direct link to the highly volatile IFRS net income has been removed, and the focus will be on growing the annual cash dividend per share in line with long- term underlying earnings. The new policy does not imply a change in the long-term dividend level, including potential share buy-backs, compared to the previous policy.

Purchase of own shares for use in the share savings programme

Since 2004, Statoil has had a share savings plan for its employees. The purpose of this plan is to strengthen the business culture and encourage loyalty through employees becoming part-owners of the company.

The annual general meeting of shareholders annually authorises the board to acquire Statoil shares in the market in order to continue implementation of the employees' share saving plan. The authorisation is valid until the next annual general meeting (AGM), no longer, however, than until 30 June the following year.