Many Íslandsbanki Buyers Have Already Sold for Profit Skip to content
Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson
Photo: Golli. Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson.

Many Íslandsbanki Buyers Have Already Sold for Profit

Of the 207 investors who purchased shares in Íslandsbanki bank in a private share offering last month, 132 have already sold some or all of their stake in the formerly state-owned bank, Kjarninn reports. The sellers have made a cumulative profit of ISK 1.6-2.1 billion [$12.3-16.2 million; €11.4-15 million]. Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson had previously stated that the aim of the share offering was to acquire long-term investors in the bank.

Íslandsbanki was fully owned by the government until last year, when it sold a 35% stake in the bank, something that had been on the government agenda for years. While that first offering was open to the public, last month’s offering was solely open to professional investors. The second sale was successful, reducing the government’s stake in the bank from 65% to 42.5%. The government has been criticised for the latter share offering’s lack of transparency, and for the 5% discount buyers received on the shares’ market value.

Foreign purchasers sold within days

Notably, six foreign investment funds that were invited to take part in the offering sold all of their purchased shares in the bank within three days of listing, at a significant profit. These funds also participated in last year’s public share offering, meaning they have turned quick profits on the sale of the bank’s shares for a second time. Those funds include Silver Point Capital, Fiera Capital, Lansdowne Partners, and Key Square Partners.

According to the shareholder lists Kjarninn has in its possession, most of the “smaller” investors that took part in last month’s share offering have already sold their shares in the Íslandsbanki. In total, 59 investors were permitted to buy shares for under ISK 30 million and another 79 for under ISK 50 million. Among the purchasers who are no longer listed as shareholders of Íslandsbanki are employees and owners of the consulting company that was hired to manage the stock offering.

Some larger investors who took part in the offering, who bought shares worth several hundred million ISK, have also sold their stake in the bank. This includes Steinn Holding Company, owned by Samherji seafood company CEO Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson and his ex-wife.

Finance Minister’s father still a shareholder

One particularly controversial buyer in the offering was the company Hafsilfur, owned by Benedikt Sveinsson, the father of Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. The Finance Minister is responsible for the sale of Íslandsbanki, according to law. Hafsilfur is still listed as a shareholder in Íslandsbanki, and its shares have increased in value by around ISK 5 million since the share offering.

Pension funds and other institutional investors have bought up a large part of the shares that smaller investors have sold at profit since the share offering. It was previously reported that pension funds requested to were allotted fewer shares in the offering than they had requested.

The Central Bank of Iceland has stated it is investigating the sale.

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