"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Arctic warms ? Iceland market cools down ?

Baugur CEO faces further charges

In October 2005, Iceland’s supreme court dismissed 32 of 40 charges levelled against Mr Jon Asgeir Johannesson CEO of Baugur and five co- defendants. Eight charges relating to book-keeping irregularities and customs violations were referred to a Reykjavik district court which acquitted Mr Johannesson in March 2006.

The prosecutor has now resubmitted 19 charges of the 32 dismissed charges. They include the use of funds in relation to the purchase of a yacht in Florida; the acquisition of the Icelandic 10/11 convenience store chain; loans between Baugur and Mr Johannesson’s Gaumur investment firm; and the sale of shares to Kaupthing, the Icelandic bank.

The Icelandic special prosecutor has resubmitted some fraud charges against Jon Asgeir Johannesson, and also unexpectedly , Jon Gerald Sullenberger, a former supplier to Baugur whose evidence formed the basis of the original investigation against Mr Johannesson, (some sordid problem about a Invoice for US$19.000 for escort girls in Miami run up by Jon Asgeir) and was included in the charges. Triggvi Jonsson, Baugur’s former chief financial officer, also faces charges.

All charges against Mr Johannesson’s sister and father and two executives from KPMG, Baugur’s auditors, have now been dropped.

Bauger controls Hamleys the London Toy retailer, it has had stakes of varying size in the UK supermarket chain Iceland, together with stakes in other British retailers such as ,Booker wholesaler, Woodward foodservice, Goldsmiths jewellery chain and Mappin & Webb retailer of luxury watches and fine jewellery, the fashion chains MK One and Jane Norman, the health products chain Julian Graves, LxB II a property development company, The Shoe Studio Group and Mosaic Fashions Ltd. which owns and operates the Oasis stores, Karen Millen, Coast and Whistles.

Baugur Group is also the largest shareholder of Magasin du Nord, the famous, Danish department store chain.

Baugur is said to control 45% of food sales and 30% of clothing sales in Iceland and has been blamed for pushing prices up, the company website claims they employ 62,000 people worldwide in over 3.500 stores.

FL Group sell out 16.7% Easyjet holding

In January Easyjet ( 41% owned by the founder Haji-Ioannou (now Non Exec. Director) and his family) appointed Goldman Sachs as advisers when LP Group with a (then ) 16.7% stake,were said to be mounting a bid the shares peaked at the time at 411p.

Yesterday (4/4/06) J.P.Morgan (with in house boker JPMorganCazenove) were said to be offering the LP holding at between 340p and 343p (when the market price was 356.5p), with the stated intention of raising their stake in Finnair (FL has has announced it has raised its stake in Finnair to 10.3 %) - this at the time the Icex fell 4.7%.The sale of this holding bought in October 2004, (topped up with 4 Mn shares in Oct 2005) have yielded a profit to LP Group of 140 Mn Euros on sale value of 325 Mn Euros a return of 70%. Fl Group also own Icelandair who have today just announced an order for 2 more Boeing 787 Dreamliners for delivery 2012 2 years after their original order for 2 will be delivered... for developing longer range world routes.

FL Group (ICEX: FL) also has significant holdings in FL Group has made significant investments in a number of companies, including Bang& Olufsen (10.5%) and Royal Unibrew (17%) in Denmark, Aktiv Kapital (10%) in Norway, Finnair (10%) in Finland and Glitnir (16%) in Iceland.

Largest shareholders of FL Group are Eignarhaldsfelagid Oddaflug ehf.
(18.9%), owned by Hannes Smarason, CEO, Baugur Group (18.3%), Icon (7.3%) and
Materia Invest (6.6%)

Well, Easyjet plunged 31p today, closing at 327p a fall of 8.7%.

US pulls Defence Forces out of Iceland

In a little noticed move, Geir Haarde the Icelandic Foreign Minister told the Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament), on March 16th 2006 that president Bush had made the final decision to end the permanent deployment of US forces in Iceland based on the recommendation of the US secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. It is expected that all forces will be withdrawn from the Keflavik base by September 2006.

Icelandic employees (approx 600) have been informed that they would all be dismissed by October 1st.
Pic HH60G USAF Blackhawk at Keflavik (c) John Smith

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