Norway's two biggest companies want to form one of the biggest oil companies in the world, through a merger between Statoil and the oil and gas division of Norsk Hydro. The merged firm would be one of the biggest offshore oil companies in the world. Both companies are heavily state-owned, and government officials are supporting the pending deal. Statoil's young boss, Helge Lund, would become chief executive of the new oil giant, while Hydro chief executive Eivind Reiten would become chairman of the merged company. Reiten would remain chief executive of Hydro Aluminium, which would also retain Hydro's operations within the hydro-electric and solar industries. Lund called the merger "an historic milestone," adding that "the time is right" for one strong market player with its home base in Norway. The country currently is the world's third-largest oil exporter. A merged Statoil-Hydro would have operations in 40 countries around the world and a combined staff of 31,000 people. It would also emerge as the worldâs largest offshore oil firm. A merger would leave Statoil's shareholders with 67 percent of the new company, while Hydro's shareholders would get 32 percent. The state would have a 62 percent stake in the merged firm.