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Spron saga grips bankers

A minority of a minority – five holders of part of the 15% active capital of Icelandic mutual savings bank Spron – are crucial to the takeover bid being made by commercial bank Búnadarbanki.


AN EXTRAORDINARY BANKING battle is being fought in Reykjavik. Búnadarbanki Íslands, Iceland's third-largest commercial bank, has made a hostile bid for Spron - the country's largest savings bank.

New laws have pushed commercial banks into a struggle against each other to gain control of the savings bank's capital, which can be acquired on the cheap and transformed into shareholder equity. This outcome was unforeseen by the savings banks when they lobbied for changes to laws governing their capital structure. Now they are determined to stand up and fight. Other banks are being drawn in and employees are hoping to make a counter-bid.

Gudmundur Hauksson, CEO of Spron and chairman of Iceland's savings banks' association, sat on the committee that drew up the proposed legislation for the savings banks. Over a plate of lobster in one of Reykjavik's top restaurants Hauksson says these banks had not expected that the change would elicit a takeover bid at all, let alone a hostile one.

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