Over the past few days and weeks the Icelandic media has reported on the ongoing discussions between FL-Group and investment company Fons concerning FL-Group’s possible acquisition of the Danish airline Sterling from Fons.
Earlier this year Fons purchased Sterling and Maersk Air and recently received approval of the Danish competition authorities to merge the two airlines under the name of Sterling.
Since late last year, FL-Group has been building up a stake in UK airline EasyJet, and now owns 13 per cent of the British airline.
This summer, 6 out of 7 FL-Group directors resigned from the board of FL-Group leaving only the executive chairman, Hannes Smárason, behind. At an extraordinary shareholder meeting convened to elect a new board, one outgoing director, Inga Jóna Thórdardóttir, said she was “not comfortable continuing to serve on the board under current management and governance practices” and warned against “violating the public’s trust”.
Last night the Icelandic Broadcasting System, RÚV, reported that the negotiations between FL-Group and Fons over Sterling were moving into the final phase and would possibly be concluded later this week.
RÚV further reported last night that FL-Group CEO Ragnhildur Geirsdóttir would be leaving FL-Group when the acquisition of Sterling was completed because “she was not in agreement with the executive chairman [Hannes Smárason] about the direction of the company”.
In a separate report today, RÚV reported that Smárason “denied that any decision about Ragnhildur Geirsdóttir had been made”. Smárason said that yesterday’s report about her imminent departure was “incorrect” and no decision had been made about Geirsdóttir. Smárason refused to discuss the matter in further detail, including his alleged disagreement with Geirsdóttir.
Other members of the board of directors of FL-Group interviewed by RÚV refused to be quoted under name. They said that Geirsdóttir had neither resigned nor been fired. RÚV’s sources did not acknowledge any disagreements between the FL-Group executive chairman and CEO either. But one anonymous director also said “where there is smoke there could be fire” without further explanation. Geirsdóttir could not be reached.
According to RÚV, the newsletter Travel People has reported that Geirsdóttir effectively resigned yesterday because of a disagreement with Smárason related to the acquisition of Sterling. According to RÚV, Travel People also reported that FL-Group will be acquiring Sterling for ISK 15 billion.