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Landsbankinn boss says she is ready for sale

09.01.2019 - 16:19
Mynd með færslu
Lilja Björk Einarsdóttir, bankastjóri Landsbankans. Mynd:
Landsbankinn is ready to be sold and nothing stands in the way of starting the sale process, according to the bank’s director. She believes both domestic and overseas entities will be interested in buying into Iceland’s biggest bank.

The Icelandic state currently owns a 98 percent stake in Landsbankinn but December’s ‘white book’ report on the financial market called upon the government to prepare to sell its stake in all the banks. 

“For me the bank is of course ready for sale, as operations are going very well and we stand up well to international comparison,” says Landsbankinn director Lilja Björk Einarsdóttir. “We have a good equity ratio and we look really good when we start comparing key figures with other banks. So, to me, of course that is all in good order and we are ready to start the sale process. Of course you also have to assess the international market conditions and who are the probable purchasers of the banks. That is also important in this regard.” 

Asked whether she think willing buyers are out there today for Landsbankinn, Lilja Björk says yes: “We are really selling a cross section of the economy and the society in Iceland. We serve customers nationwide in all economic sectors and it is a very good investment, for those who want to invest in Iceland, to invest in Landsbankinn.” 

The bank’s equity hit 236 billion krónur in late September and its equity ratio was 24.8 percent—which is significantly above the 20.5 percent minimum stipulated by the FME financial regulator. 

Paradoxically, the bank may want to lower its capital ratio before it is sold, to ensure a potential buyer is not literally buying more money than they pay. Such a move could see a lucrative dividend payment to the State before it relinquishes its ruling stake in the bank.