Magma Energy CEO Ross Beaty announced yesterday that he was looking to sell up to 25% of his almost total ownership of HS Orka to an Icelandic company, in the hopes of quieting opposition to the company’s presence in the country.
Reuters reports that Beaty wants to sell the shares at face value, at neither a profit nor a loss. “The principle we’re going in on in this discussion is to divest a minority stake, meaning 10 or 20 or 25 percent,” Beaty said in part. “Our principle will be that we seek neither to make a profit on a transaction nor a loss.”
His reason for the decision? Damage control. Beaty said he wants to sell “something in that range to a good investor, who will be good not just for us but for Iceland and good to neutralise some of this political noise that has developed over time, to help the government in its objectives.”
The “political noise” to which Beaty refers is the widespread public opposition to what many Icelanders see as a dishonest company. Beaty has been criticised by the Grapevine for having told our readers in September 2009 that he has no intentions of acquiring a majority stake in HS Orka, and later for telling foreign media that geothermal energy lasts “for thousands of years”.
The former claim turned out quite differently when the company ended up buying 98.53% of HS Orka, and the latter claim has been refuted as scientifically inaccurate by Icelandic geologists. Furthermore, members of the committee that the prime minister assembled to investigate the legality of Magma’s purchase of HS Orka recently said that the government still has the right to terminate the sale.
For more on recent Magma events, see Anna Andersen’s article, Team Björk Tries To Freeze Magma Energy.