Hvalur hf., the last Icelandic whaling company that still hunts fin whales, might soon be no more. A lengthy report in Fréttablaðið’s business section, Markaðurinn, discloses that three shareholders in the company are seeking to be bought out and this, Hvalur CEO Kristján Loftsson says, would effectively force the company to shutter its doors.
The shareholders in question—Einar Sveinsson, his brother Ingimundur Sveinsson, and Einar’s son Benedikt Einarsson—having a combined 5.3% ownership interest in Hvalur, and are demanding to be bought out for a total of 1.56 billion ISK plus damages. Einar also happens to be chairman of the board at Hvalur.
They accuse Kristján of having bought his controlling shares in the company “significantly below market value”, giving him an “undue interest” at the expense of other shareholders. This, they contend, is a violation of the company’s by-laws.
Kristján told reporters that if this buy-out were to go through, it would effectively spell the end of the company, as it would prompt other shareholders to also seek to be bought out.
While Hvalur is ostensibly a whaling company, 2020 marked the second year in a row that whale hunting was called off for the season. Hvalur is in fact one of the largest investment companies in the country, with much of its revenue in treasury bonds and stocks, both in Iceland and abroad. They also own significant shares in Icelandic companies such as net makers Hampiðjan, tech company Origo, food industry company Marel and Arion Bank.
It is expected that the matter will be opened in West Iceland District Court this September.
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