Íslandsbanki Acquires Stakes in Icelandair Skip to content

Íslandsbanki Acquires Stakes in Icelandair

The state-run bank Íslandsbanki acquired 42 percent of share capital in Icelandair Group yesterday, increasing its total holdings in the company from five to 47 percent. Most of the share capital in question, almost 38 percent, was formally held by investment companies Máttur and Naust.

The stocks taken over by Íslandsbanki had been put up as collateral for loans taken to purchase stocks in Icelandair Group. The Financial Supervisory Authority (FME) granted Íslandsbanki an exemption from a mandatory bid, visir.is reports.

“These changes among the group of owners were not surprising in light of the economic situation. They won’t have any impact on the daily operations of Icelandair Group nor its individual subsidiaries,” CEO of Icelandair Group Björgólfur Jóhannsson wrote in an email to his employees yesterday morning, mbl.is reports.

“The bank said in a statement that our operations have been more successful than expected this year, that the company will continued to be listed on the stock exchange and that the stake will be resold as quickly as possible,” Jóhannesson wrote.

The CEO encouraged his employees to continue “the good work that our companies are already doing during these unusual times,” pointing out that the busiest time of the year in aviation and tourism lies ahead and that by focusing on the projects at hand the company’s interests will remain intact.

Einar Sveinsson, the outgoing vice-chairman of the board of Icelandair Group, who held the majority of shares in Naust with his brother Benedikt Sveinsson and also a large share in Máttur, told Morgunbladid that the state of Icelandic companies is tragic.

“One after another they seem to end up in the state’s ownership. It is as if full-scale state socialism has taken over. Many of these companies, including these two that I have connections with, are the victims of this course of events—not the perpetrators,” Sveinsson claimed.

It looks as if Íslandsbanki and Landsbanki, another state-owned bank, might end up with a combined share of 70 percent in Icelandair Group. Sveinsson stated that these measures are only the tip of the iceberg and that there is the risk of an extensive domino effect.

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