Within the course of our research into the oil scandal, we came across this press release on Shell’s website (www.skeljungur.is), dated October 25, 2004:
“Hagar hf. has bought all the shares of Skeljungur hf. . . Baugur Group, Fengur hf. with connected companies and Stoðir hf. each own 24-29% of Hagar hf.”
While it would seem as though three separate companies now own Shell, the reality is quite different. According to Stoðir’s own website (www.stodir.is), Baugur owns the largest share of Stoðir hf: 49.6%. Fengur hf. is owned by Pálmi Haraldsson and Jóhannes Kristinsson, but Haraldsson also sits on the board of directors of 365 hf. – a Baugur company. On Shell’s website, Haraldsson is also listed as the chairman of its board of directors. As all three of these companies are Baugur controlled and all own Hagar hf., Shell is effectively controlled by Baugur.
We called Skeljungur hf to see if they were aware that they were a Baugur company. We spoke with office director Birgitta Sigurbeinsdóttir, who explained that Hagar hf “owns Skeljungur.” When asked who owned Hagar, she replied that it was Baugur Group.
“So in other words, Baugur Group owns Skeljungur?,” we asked.
She paused for a moment and replied, not sounding entirely certain, “Yeah, I guess so.”
The news of Hagar’s purchase of Shell wasn’t buried in the back pages of a website. Stöð 2 reported on the story the same day it appeared on Shell’s website. But when Baugur buys a company, they normally shout it from the rooftops. While we can certainly understand why Baugur media outlets wouldn’t go to great lengths to illustrate how Baugur has total ownership of an oil company that was convicted of breaking the law, it took us a total of fifteen minutes to find this information. It’s just a shame that any digging needed to be done in the first place.