Atli Rafn Björnsson, director of business consulting at Íslandsbanki bank has left his position at the bank, RÚV reports. He is the third executive at the bank to leave his post since the middle of last week. Íslandsbanki was fined around ISK 1.2 billion last month due to breaching regulations in the sale of 22.5% of the bank last year. It is the highest fine on a financial institution in Iceland’s history.
Atli Rafn had been in his position since 2019, and will be replaced by Ellert Hlöðversson. Ásmundur Tryggvason, who was CEO of Íslandsbanki’s Business and Investment Division, also left his position last weekend, and the bank’s CEO Birna Einarsdóttir resigned last week. She was replaced by Jón Guðni Ómarsson, who stated that his priority was to restore trust in the bank following the poorly-handled private stock offering of last year.
Background to the sale
In early 2020, Iceland’s government began preparation to sell the state-owned Íslandsbanki in stages. The first partial sale was carried out in June 2021, a successful public stock offering of a 35% stake in the bank. Following that sale, 65% of the bank remained state-owned.
The next stage of the sale took place in March 2022, this time a private stock offering of a 22.5% stake in the bank. Unlike the first offering, it was only open to professional investors. The sale was successful, reducing state ownership in the bank from 65% to 42.5%. The private stock offering was immediately criticised for its lack of transparency and for the discount given to investors despite high demand. As public pressure mounted, the list of investors who took part in the share was published, revealing several who had access to inside information on the sale, such as employees of the consulting company that had been hired to manage the sale as well as the father of Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson.
Left-Green Movement MP Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir who also chairs the parliamentary Budget Committee, has demanded Íslandsbanki publish the employment termination agreement made with former CEO Birna Einarsdóttir. The chairperson of the Íslandsbanki board says the board has not discussed Bjarkey’s demand, but that it will do so. The bank has called a shareholders’ meeting for July 28.
Íslandsbanki CEO Jón Guðni Ómarsson stated that those in charge of the private share offering had now shouldered responsibility by leaving their positions and that there would be no further resignations or layoffs of executives at the bank for the time being.