Some readers may remember a series of posts last year about the proposed — and later finalized — sale of the energy company HS Orka to a Canadian outfit named Magma Energy. This story is one of most blatantly corrupt tales to come out of this country in the last few years, and that, as everyone knows, IS SAYING A LOT.
The deal involved an unholy alliance between a company named Geysir Green Energy, headed by such luminous masterminds as Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, Hannes Smárason and Bjarni Ármannsson [all formerly associated with Glitnir | FL Group and who probably don’t need much introduction to the Icelandophiles in the crowd], and the Independence Party in Reykjanesbær, the town near the Keflavík Airport [and an IP stronghold]. Geysir Green gained control of HS Orka, which is the utility company that supplies energy to the Reykjanes peninsula [the one you drive along on your way to Reykjavík from the airport] and which thereby became the first privatized utility company in Iceland. It happens to produce nine percent of Iceland’s geothermal energy.
Icelandic law bans foreign ownership of Icelandic resources. That is because a country’s resources are inextricably tied to its sovereignty. A country’s resources should benefit the people of that country, and they should have control of them. That just makes fundamental sense. However, as Iceland is part of the EEA, that legislation was expanded to include EEA countries, as well. That’s the cost of belonging to a union of that nature, for better or for worse.
Enter Magma Energy, a Canadian energy company that had its eye on HS Orka. Being a Canadian enterprise, Magma Energy was not permitted to invest in Icelandic resources. However – every problem has a solution – right? Magma Energy simply set up a shell company in Sweden and presto! they were fit to play on the Icelandic market.
[The fact that no one has thought to set up laws to ban such a simple yet underhanded maneuver completely boggles the mind.]
Magma also came along at a time when the Icelandic economy was incredibly vulnerable. It was just after the meltdown, the share in HS Orka had to be sold on technical grounds, and supposedly there was no other bidder. Or – wait! Yes there was. Only, the identity of that bidder was not disclosed to us, the Icelandic public.
At the time all this was happening last year, Magma Energy was bidding to become a major investor in HS Orka, with a 48 percent share. Geysir Green Energy would hold the remaining shares, and still be a controlling investor. However, at the time many of us speculated that Geysir Green would simply bide their time and eventually sell the entire company to the Canadians. You know, in good time. When most of the furor had died down, and people had forgotten about this and/or were busy with other scandals things.
That happened today.
Today the sale of all shares in HS Orka was sold to Magma Energy of Canada. Or – excuse me, of Sweden.
If this had happened when the IP and Progressive Party were in power, I would not have been surprised. But this happens when the Left-freaking-Greens and Social Democrats are in power! Even the Minister for the Environment is from the Left Greens! And what was her response? “Oh this is such a sad day for Iceland.” BOO-fucking-HOO!! Why didn’t they go ahead and change legislation to prevent this sort of thing? Introduce a bill in parliament? DO something, instead of whining about it?
Anyway. As you can tell, I’m pretty upset about this. Corruption, stupidity and whining politicians always make me want to break things. Either that, or eat ice cream. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must do a survey of the contents of my freezer. Or the tableware cupboard.
PS – Ross Beaty, CEO of Magma, appeared on Kastljós this evening and played the victim, looking and sounding all “hurt” that the Icelandic discourse was so negative towards him and his saintly company that was merely wanting to “help”. Much like the halo he wore on Kastljós last year, when he was like the second coming of Christ. GAG.