Three shareholders of whaling company Hvalur hf. have sued the company, demanding to redeem their shares for the amount of ISK 1,563,000,000 ($11.2m/€9.9m) plus penal interest, Vísir reports. The shareholders have just over a 5.3% stake in the company. Hvalur hf.’s CEO says there is a chance the case could force the company to dissolve.
The shareholders are companies owned by Einar Sveinsson, Benedikt Einarsson, and Ingimundur Sveinsson. The allege that Hvalur’s CEO Kristján Loftsson bought “substantially discounted” shares in the company and waived the board’s right to purchase, thereby acquiring “undue interests” at the expense of other shareholders. The principal proceedings in the case are expected to start in September.
The trio believe this is a violation of corporate law and, as a consequence, their companies have the right to cash in their shares. This particular article has never been tried in court. Kristján states that if the court rules in the shareholders’ favour, it could lead to Hvalur hf.’s dissolution, as it may lead other shareholders to demand buyouts at the same price. He does not, however, believe that is what the majority of the company’s shareholders want.
Hvalur hf. has not conducted any whaling since 2018, citing an unfavourable market. It is, however, conducting research on various whale by-products for use in potential dietary supplements and therapeutic applications. Commercial whaling in Iceland has been controversial both in the country and abroad. Hvalur hf. has previously made headlines for failing to turn in hunting records, and the killing of a hybrid whale. The company was granted a five-year whaling licence in 2019.