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Shareholder dispute could bring down Icelandic whaling company

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The company behind fin whaling in Iceland, Hvalur hf. is being sued by three of its shareholders in a case that could force the company to dissolve.

According to reports from Iceland, the three shareholder companies are demanding to redeem their shares in Hvalur hf. for ISK 1,563,000,000 (nearly £9m) plus interest.

The shareholders have just over a 5.3% stake in the company. Hvalur hf.’s CEO says there is a chance the case could force the company to cease trading.

The three shareholders accuse CEO, Kristján Loftsson of breaking corporate law by buying shares in the company at a discounted rate and so acquiring “undue interests” at the expense of other shareholders. As a result, the three stakeholders now believe they have the right to sell their shares.

If the court rules in the shareholders’ favour, it could lead other shareholders demanding buyouts at the same price and so cause the fin whaling company Hvalur to collapse.

The case is expected to start in September.

Earlier in the spring, Hvalur hf announced that it will not be venturing out to kill endangered fin whales this summer due to ‘tough market conditions in Japan’. However, whaling continues to be largely unprofitable and increasingly unpopular in Iceland.

The last hunts to take place off the coast of Iceland saw over 146 fin whales slaughtered, including at least two rare blue whale/fin whale hybrids and a dozen pregnant females.

WDC has long campaigned against commercial whaling of both fin and minke whales in Iceland, and the transit of fin whale meat to Japan.

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