The majority shareholders of one of Iceland’s largest seafood companies Samherji have transferred their shares to their children. Kjarninn editor Þórður Snær Júlíusson says the transfer is the largest “inheritance” in Icelandic history, worth between ISK 60-70 billion ($420 million/€383 million). Samherji made international headlines last year for an alleged bribery scandal in Namibia.
The largest shareholders of Samherji, Helga Steinunn Guðmundsdóttir, Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, Kristján Vilhelmsson and Kolbrún Ingólfsdóttir have transferred their shares to their children. Their combined ownership consisted of 86.5% of the shares in Samherji and after the transfer they will have just a 2% stake in the company. Þorsteinn Már, currently CEO of the company, and Kristján Vilhelmsson, managing director of ship operations, will remain in their positions.
Largest inheritance in Icelandic history
Þórður Snær Júlíusson, editor of media outlet Kjarninn, estimated the value of the transaction to be between ISK 60-70 billion ($420 million/€383 million) based on Samherji’s equity. Samherji representatives described the transfer as a combination prepaid inheritance and sale, both of which are subject to tax in Iceland. “We didn’t get an answer as to what the value of the shares is in this transaction and consequently it is difficult to calculate directly what the expected tax payments are. But I think it is a given that this is likely […] the largest amount of money that has ever been inherited in Iceland,” Þórður stated.
Maintaining family relationships
“By transferring shares to their children, the founders of Samherji want to maintain the essential family relationships that the company was built on and have been the cornerstone of its operations,” a statement from the company reads. According to the statement, preparations for the transfer have been underway for two years. After the transfer, the largest shareholders in Samherji will be Baldvin Þorsteinsson and Katla Þorsteinsdóttir, with a 43% stake, and Dagný Linda Kristjánsdóttir, Halldór Örn Kristjánsson, Kristján Bjarni Kristjánsson, and Katrín Kristjánsdóttir, with a combined 41% stake.
Samherji’s operations are divided between two companies, Samherji hf. and Samherji Holding. It is the shares of Samherji hf., which mostly operates in the Icelandic and Faroese fishing industries but also as an investment company, that have been transferred from parents to children. Samherji Holding oversees the company’s operations abroad, though it also has a 27% stake in Icelandic shipping company Eimskip.
Samherji is currently under investigation in Iceland, Norway, and Namibia due to tax evasion and alleged use of bribery to obtain fishing quota in Africa.