Nasdaq Central Securities Depository in Iceland Merges with Nasdaq CSD

Nasdaq central securities depository in Iceland has merged with Nasdaq CSD, which will now operate in Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, RÚV reports. An announcement about the merger states that in its wake, Icelandic operations will be able to make full use of the opportunities and connections that Nasdaq CSD’s securities depository system has to offer, thus creating new opportunities for both domestic and foreign customers.

“This is both the biggest infrastructure change as well as technological advancement that has taken place in the Icelandic securities market for 20 years and will allow us to participate in innovation and development in this branch that will deliver to our clients,” stated Magnús Kristinn Ásgeirsson, CEO of Nasdaq CSD in Iceland. It is expected that the technical part of the merger – the introduction of a new central securities depository system – will be completed on 15 June.

In 2017, Nasdaq CSD became the first European securities depository to obtain operating licenses under the new European Central Securities Depository Regulation (CSDR), and was recently granted a licence to operate in Iceland according to that regulation. Nasdaq CSD has integrated the operations of Nasdaq Securities Centre in Iceland with Nasdaq CSD in accordance with CSDR’s requirements for governance and operations, with a view to ensuring more secure and efficient settlement services in the Icelandic securities market in accordance with international standards.

Icelandair Shareholders Yet to Approve WOW air Purchase

WOW - Icelandair - Keflavík Airport

The Iceland Stock Exchange (ICEX) suspended trading of Icelandair shares yesterday. Túristi.is reported first. According to ICEX, the suspension was made at the request of the Financial Supervisory Authority. Icelandair Group is now in negotiations with shareholders regarding changes to the trading terms of the company’s shares. The purchase agreement is subject to approval at a shareholders’ meeting to be held this week.

The trading suspension is temporary and will last until Friday, November 30, on which date Icelandair Group will hold a shareholders’ meeting. The company reached an agreement to purchase Iceland’s low-cost airline WOW air earlier this month. An announcement from Icelandair Group released on November 26, however, states it is unlikely that the conditions of the purchase agreement will be fulfilled by the November 30 meeting date.

Both Icelandair and WOW had been in the media spotlight for poor performance and financial difficulties over the past several quarters. The meeting agenda is also expected to include discussion of new measure’s to strengthen the company’s finances over the long term.

Icelandair’s subsidiary Loftleiðir Icelandic recently submitted a binding offer for 51% of the shares in Cabo Verde Airlines. On November 5, 2017, the Cape Verdean government signed an agreement with Loftleiðir turning the administration of the airline over to the Icelandic company.

Stock Exchange to Discontinue Publishing List of Largest Shareholders

The Iceland Stock Exchange (ICEX) has decided to discontinue publishing and distributing a list of the 20 largest shareholders in the companies that are listed on the exchange, Vísir reports.

The decision is motivated by a new privacy act which just took effect, as ICEX considers that the publication and distribution of the list as it is currently done does not meet requirements imposed by the legislation. Registered companies were informed of ICEX’s decision by email and were refunded half of their annual fees due to the changes.

Páll Harðarson, CEO of ICEX, said in a conversation with Fréttablaðið that the companies themselves may continue to publish the lists on their websites, but the approval of the relevant shareholders is required. “They can take the initiative themselves if demand from investors and the willingness of shareholders is at hand,” Páll stated.

Óli Björn Kárason, chairman of the Parliamentary Economic Affairs and Trade Committee, wrote if the new privacy act reduces transparency in the stock market, it works against healthy business practices. “It took decades to fight for the country’s largest companies to publish their shareholders list. Hörður Sigurgestsson, then-CEO of Eimskip, broke the ice,” Óli wrote in a Facebook post. “A healthy and strong stock market is important and a prerequisite of that is the rule of trust. And trust is not obtained unless transparency is guaranteed.”

Páll stated that information about transactions will otherwise be circulated in a similar manner to foreign stock markets. Financially-invested parties will continue to receive notice when company shares exceed certain limits. The information is published in accordance with the Securities Transactions Act. “This kind of information is published in order for the market to be informed of the movements and transactions of entities that have the greatest impact on the management of the companies. I believe that such disclosure is sufficient,” replied Paul when asked what ICEX’s stance was on the changes.

One corporation listed on the Iceland Stock Exchange, real estate company Reginn, has taken the list of twenty largest shareholders down from its website. It remains visible on other corporations’ websites at the time of publishing.