New Bill Proposes Fines on Companies with Gender-Imbalanced Boards

Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

A new parliamentary bill would impose fines on Icelandic companies that do not fulfil a gender quota on their corporate boards, mbl.is reports. The bill was presented by Left-Green MP Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir and has the support of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who says she believes it will be welcomed by the business community.

According to the terms of the bill, which is currently under consideration in Alþingi, a daily fine of between ISK 10-100,000 ($80-790/€75-730) would be levied against companies whose corporate boards are not comprised of a legally mandated gender balance – namely that no gender may have less than 40% representation. The fine would be assessed until the company submitted an updated notice to the Register of Corporations showing a more equal gender balance.

According to recent reports, the percentage of women on corporate boards in Iceland is just over 30%, despite the fact that a higher rate is mandated by law and has been since 2010. It has also become clear that laws on gender quotas have not had the hoped-for spillover effect and led to more women entering executive or senior management positions.

“I think parliament should approve this bill,” the Prime Minister remarked during her speech at the Iceland Chamber of Commerce’s business conference in Harpa on Thursday. “…I believe that it will be welcomed by the business community.” Indeed, earlier in the conference, when Chamber of Commerce Chair Katrín Olga Jóhannesdóttir asked all attendees who were committed to being part of the solution when it comes to equality issues in the industry to stand, nearly every person in attendance did so.

“We all know that men and women are equal,” the Prime Minister concluded. “The fact that there are not more women executives [in Iceland] is a waste of human resources.”

Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation Sold for (At Least) ISK 40 Billion

The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation, founded by Sigurður Kjartan Hilmarsson in 2006, is estimated to have been sold for a minimum of ISK 40 billion [$370 million; €323 million], Kjarninn reports. The company was sold at the beginning of last year to French dairy corporation Lactalis, but the sale price was kept confidential.

Sigurður shared the majority stake in his company, or 78%, with a handful of friends and relatives. The remaining 22% stake was held by the Swiss dairy company Emmi. Emmi sold its minority stake in the company to “profit significantly from this transaction in the financial year 2018.” In fact, according to its recently published financial reports for the first part of 2018, Emmi made a profit of $80.9 million [ISK 9.68 billion; €70.35 million] on the sale of its minority share in The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation, or $58.9 million [ISK 7.05 billion; €51.2 million] after taxes. Thus were journalists at Fréttablaðið able to make an educated estimate as to the final total sales price of The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation.

In the run-up to the sale, it was estimated that in 2018, the sales revenue from Siggi’s Skyr, The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation’s marquee product, would come close to $200 million [ISK 22 billion; €173.9 million].

Costa Considers Opening Location in Iceland

Costa, the second-largest coffeehouse chain in the world, is proposing to open a franchise in Iceland, Vísir reports. The corporation is currently considering locations in downtown Reykjavík, although it is not currently known who will hold the franchise license in Iceland.

Costa, which was established by Italian immigrants to Britain in 1971, is the largest coffeehouse chain in Britain and operates 3,800 locations in 32 countries worldwide, the majority of which are in Britain. A spokesperson for the corporation says that the company’s goal is to operate 1,200 coffeehouses in China before 2020. The corporation was purchased in 1995 by Whitbread, which also owns and operates Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in Britain.