Iceland Seafood International CEO Bjarni Ármannsson steps down, sells stake in company

Soon to be former ISI CEO Bjarni Armannsson

Iceland Seafood International (ISI) CEO Bjarni Ármannsson has stepped down after five years in the position, and will be replaced by Brim Chief Operating Officer Ægir Páll Friðbertsson.

The company announced on 25 September that Friðbertsson will officially take over as CEO on 1 November, and Ármannsson will support the transition process until that time. 

Ármannsson is also selling off the stake that Sjávarsýn – a holding company he fully owns – has in ISI. In total, he will sell off the 10.83 percent share of ISI to Brim. Based on the market cap of Iceland Seafood International, Brim purchased the 10.83 percent share for roughly ISK 1.69 billion (USD 12.3 million, EUR 11.6 million). 

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to lead Iceland Seafood for the last almost five years,” Ármannsson said. “It’s been a time of learning for me and characterized by volatile externalities that have at times been challenging. I would like to thank the people I’ve worked with and the board of directors in particular for its continued support.”

Ármannsson’s departure comes after the company posted a net loss in 2022 of EUR 9.9 million (USD 10.5 million) compared to a EUR 8.8 million (USD 9.3 million) profit in 2021. Those losses were largely related to Iceland Seafood U.K., which dragged on the company’s profits despite its increased sales value – up 11 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 to EUR 420.8 million (USD 445.9 million). 

In August 2022, the company confirmed it was reviewing its strategy in the U.K. after multiple years of challenges. ISI ultimately determined that stabilizing its operations in the country would take longer and cost more than it had previously estimated.

ISI ultimately decided to sell off its assets, but faced difficulty following through. Two separate letters of intent were signed with prospective buyers, ISI said earlier this year, but both fell apart, leading the company to reverse course and retain the U.K. assets.

That decision, too, ended up being reversed as it finally reached a deal with Danish value-added producer Espersen for a sale prices of just GPB 1,000 (then USD 1,271, EUR 1,170).

“This investment has been a great cost for the company and its shareholders,” Ármannsson said at the time. “It’s been a very tough market during these years, and we have tried with immense effort to turn this around without success.”

Despite the challenges, Friðbertsson will take over ISI at a time when the company is forecasting a profit before tax in the range of range of EUR 2 million to EUR 5 million (USD 2.1 million to USD 5.3 million) for 2023.

“I believe the company has a good potential and I look forward to work with its employees, suppliers and customers to further develop the company,” Friðbertsson said. “The company is deeply rooted amongst Icelandic producers and I’m confident we can continue to produce value added products in Europe at a premium for the advantage of all stakeholders.”

Ármannsson said Friðbertsson will be a ... 

Photo courtesy of Iceland Seafood International

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