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Capital Markets

Íslandsbanki hopes caution will pay

Íslandsbanki's acquisition of BNbank in Norway marks a significant acceleration in its growth plans. A small deposit base means the bank has to actively seek diverse sources of funding

"We have striven to diversify
our sources of funding and
consider doing so extremely
important."
Bjarni Armansson



In the context of the extraordinary growth of the Icelandic banking market, being labelled "the conservative bank" by market observers is hardly an accusation of inertia. The label has arisen, in part, because Íslandsbanki has focused its international expansion efforts on organic growth in specialist areas such as fishing, sustainable energy industry and offshore supply.

In January, Íslandsbanki made its most significant overseas acquisition yet with the purchase of commercial bank BNbank in Norway. "We are basically doubling in size with our acquisition," says Bjarni Armansson, CEO. However, he adds: "Having made our acquisition we are going to focus on integration rather than seeking external growth for the rest of the year."

Íslandsbanki is similarly cautious when it comes to its funding and is protective of its rating, according to Armansson. In May, Moody's downgraded the financial strength rating of the bank from B– to C+ having put it on review for possible downgrade in connection to the bank's bid for BNbank in Norway.

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