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British oil major BP and Aker have jointly divested around 5% stake in Norwegian oil and gas joint venture Aker BP.

The two companies sold a total of 18.01 million Aker BP shares at a price of Nkr310 ($35.68) per share.

This represents a total consideration of $655m (Nkr5.58bn), reported Reuters.

Aker BP was created in 2016 following the merger of the Norwegian upstream operations of BP and Aker. Since its launch, Aker BP shares have recorded a fourfold increase.

The British firm has sold 7.72 million shares in Aker BP reducing its stake to 27.85% while Aker sold 10.29 million shares, which brings its stake in the firm to 37.14%.

Before the sale, Aker president and CEO Øyvind Eriksen said: “Aker has a large portfolio with a variety of investments across different sectors whereas Aker BP represented 50% of Aker’s gross asset value per 3Q 2021.

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“Aker BP is and will remain a core holding in Aker’s portfolio. The aim of the offering is however to balance Aker’s portfolio by freeing up liquidity, diversifying and continue growing the portfolio.”

The stake sale has boosted the free float of Aker BP to 35%.

BP CEO Bernard Looney said: “This transaction will enable bp to realise some of the considerable value Aker BP has already generated while remaining committed to its ongoing success and value creation for shareholders.”

BP plans to use the sale proceeds to strengthen its balance sheet while supporting its ongoing buyback commitment.

The share sale managers were Pareto Securities, JP Morgan, DNB Markets, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

BP and Aker have now entered a lock-up for six months for the remaining Aker BP shares that they currently own, subject to certain exemptions.