Icelandic bank Straumur-Burdaras is considering shifting its legal domicile and stock exchange listing to London or Stockholm, according to the Financial Times.
The move is intended to help distance Iceland's largest remaining listed bank from its country's financial crisis plus increase its international focus, says William Fall, chief executive of the bank.
Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, chairman and largest shareholder of Straumur-Burdaras, says a move out of Iceland has long been on the cards. "It has always been the policy to migrate, to make Straumur an international bank," he adds.
The choice of Stockholm or London is based on the financial centres' 'institutional depth and regulatory quality' but plans rely on a reverse merger with a UK broker or shell company for a London-bound move. Straumur-Burdaras would need regulatory approval and a partner which may be difficult to attract because of the bank's cross-shareholdings with troubled Icelandic companies.
Share prices have plunged 90% over the past 12 months in 'extremely tough' market conditions, but Fall does not believe the price reflects their value in Iceland where there is no liquidity.
However, with 85% of its staff based outside Iceland plus boutique investment banks and brokers in central Europe, the Netherlands, Finland and London, the bank plans to move as soon as possible. If a move was successful the bank would retain its Icelandic banking arm and is currently building investment funds with an Icelandic companies and property focus.
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