Baldvinsson returns to jointly head up Samherji amid coronavirus crisis

Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson has returned to the Samherji fold, resuming his position as CEO and working alongside interim chief Björgólfur Jóhannsson, the Icelandic seafood company’s board has confirmed.

Announcing the reappointment, Samherji’s board explained that Jóhannsson will continue as co-CEO until it decides otherwise, and that Baldvinsson would be focused on helping guide Samherji through the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic has forced many Icelandic companies to close or reduce their activities, while the government is implementing the largest economic rescue package in the country’s history.

Baldvinsson temporarily vacated the CEO position in November last year in order that the internal investigation of alleged bribery within Samherji’s Namibian activities could be conducted.

"It will be Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson's task to lead Samherji's crisis handling in the wake of the COVID-19 impact,” Samherji Chairman Eiríkur S. Jóhannsson said in a press release. “The Samherji board of directors consider strong leadership with detailed knowledge of the organization's personnel, fishing, processing, sales, transport, and all other operational aspects to be critical for the crisis handling which has been necessitated by the outbreak. Mr. Baldvinsson has previously guided Samherji through the difficulties of the Icelandic banking meltdown and the global financial crisis with outstanding results. The board of directors can see nobody better-equipped to handle this situation."

Samherji said the investigation in Namibia, which has been supported by the Norway-based law firm Wikborg Rein, “would continue unaffected and without interruption” from the changes in the group's management. It added that that Wikborg Rein's reporting lines remain to the board of directors, and Jóhannsson will continue to be dedicated to providing any assistance needed by the lawyers. Although some delays are expected from the investigation due to the COVID-19 situation, it is still scheduled to be finalized and reported to the Samherji board of directors and relevant authorities this spring.

In January, Samherji announced its intention to implement a corporate governance and compliance system. This new system is to be part of the group's future management structure and will cover Samherji and all its subsidiaries.

As co-CEO, Jóhannsson will remain in charge of implementing the system, which is expected to be completed later this year.

Samherji also said that it is working hard to maintain all vessels in operation, while production at its Dalvík and Akureyri fish processing plants will continue to the extent permitted by the infection prevention guidelines.

However, on 25 March, The Namibian reported Samherji will be ending its operations in Namibia in early April.

Photo courtesy of Samherji


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