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Foreign Investors Buy 30 Percent in Arion Bank

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Foreign Investors Buy 30 Percent in Arion Bank

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Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Foreign funds and investment bank Goldman Sachs have acquired almost 30 percent of shares in Icelandic bank Arion Bank for ISK 48.8 billion (USD 452 million, EUR 420 million), as announced by Arion Bank and Kaupþing ehf. (the administrator of the defunct Kaupþing’s assets) yesterday evening.

The acquisition took place during a restricted call for tenders by Kaupþing’s subsidiary, Kaupskil, ruv.is reports.

“We have long been of the opinion that it would be a positive move for the Bank to bring on board international shareholders. We have met numerous international investors over the last few years and have detected a keen interest in Iceland and the Bank. We can sense this interest in other fields in Iceland too, for example in tourism and retail, where renowned international brands are giving the country unprecedented attention,” says CEO of Arion Bank Höskuldur H. Ólafsson in a statement.

The proceeds from the transaction will be used to prepay the Icelandic state treasury’s ISK 84 billion secured note, which was negotiated as part of Kaupþing’s stability contribution during composition.

Through Kaupskil, Kaupþing remains majority owner of Arion Bank with 57.9 percent of shares. The Iceland State Financial Investments holds 13 percent.

Goldman Sachs International holds 2.6 percent, Sculptor Investments 6.6 percent, Tactonic Capital Advisors UK LLP 9.99 percent and Attestor Capital LLP 9.99 percent.

Progressive Party MP and former Foreign Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir has requested a meeting in the Alþingi parliament’s Economic Affairs and Trade Committee because of the trade with shares in Arion Bank.

Lilja said on Morgunútvarpið, the morning program on RÚV’s Rás 2 radio, this morning, that further information about the buyers is needed. “The main issue in rebuilding trust and credibility in the market is transparent ownership in financial markets,” she reasoned.

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