Icelandic entrepreneur Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, former CEO and chair of the failed investment group Baugur, has approached Malcolm Walker, chief executive of the UK frozen food chain Iceland, on investing in his Hagar retail empire in Iceland.
Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
According to The Telegraph, Walker is considering helping Jóhannesson to raise GBP 35 million (USD 58 million, EUR 39 million) to secure the future of Hagar, which runs the stores Bónus, Hagkaup, Debenhams and 10-11 in Iceland.
“It is something that I would look at, to make a very small investment on a personal basis. On a personal level I have always found [Jon Asgeir] to be an honourable guy,” Walker told The Telegraph.
Jóhannesson is also rumored to have approached British tycoon Tom Hunter with the same request. However, Hunter told Morgunbladid, that he is not in the group of foreign investors planning to refinance 1998, Hagar’s mother company.
Both Hunter and Walker were partners of Jóhannesson and Baugur Group for many years. For example, Hunter participated in Baugur’s acquisition of House of Fraser in 2006. Baugur held a large share in Iceland and Jóhannesson is still a member of the chain store’s board.
Arion Bank, previously Kaupthing, is now taking two months to evaluate an offer on the financial reorganization of 1998 made by Hagar chair Jóhannes Jónsson, who founded Bónus with his son Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, a group of foreign investors and Hagar’s executives.
The bank released a statement saying 1998’s debts will not be written off but would otherwise not comment on the offer. The alleged write-off in the case of 1998’s raised considerable controversy in Iceland.