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.