Century Aluminum (Nordurál) was interested in buying the share of Geysir Green Energy (GGE) in the energy company HS Orka in 2009. Íslandsbanki handled the sale and decided to rather accept the offer made by Magma Energy Sweden, a subsidiary of the Canadian Magma Energy.
A geothermal borehole on Reykjanes where HS Orka is based. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“I can confirm that Nordurál participated in the sales process of the stock in HS Orka which Íslandsbanki oversaw. Íslandsbanki decided to sell the HS’s stock to Magma. We are confident that our offer was very competitive, yet Magma’s offer was accepted,” Century Aluminum’s media representative Árni Hafberg told Fréttabladid.
Magma’s acquisition of GGE’s share in HS Orka was particularly controversial and Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon sought means to intervene in the sale process on behalf of the Icelandic state.
The minister was accused at the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, yesterday for inappropriate intervention in this case.
Sigfússon dismissed these claims, explaining that he had tried to guarantee that the majority, or at least half of the shares in HS Orka, remained in the ownership of domestic parties. He tried to assemble a group of owners but those efforts were fruitless, he added.
Hafberg stated that had also been the ambition of Century Aluminum, to assemble a group of investors for joint acquisition in HS Orka.
“Nordurál participated in the sale process to ensure that HS would have the financial means to complete the energy harnessing project on Reykjanes and fulfill its obligations towards the smelter in Helguvík,” he said in reference to a smelter Century Aluminum is constructing on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland, where HS Orka is based.
“Among other items, Nordurál offered to participate in HS Orka’s investment as a minority owner with other Icelandic investors, pension funds, for example. The situation today is that HS Orka is trying to avoid its obligations defined in the energy contract between the two companies,” Hafberg claimed.
The dispute between Century Aluminum and HS Orka on energy sale agreements because of the smelter in Helguvík is currently in arbitration court. A verdict is expected next week.