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Exista hf.
IndustryFinancial services
HeadquartersReykjavík, Iceland
Key people
ProductsInsurance, asset financing, investments
Revenue961.5 million (2007)[1]
Increase €573.9 million (2007)[1]
Total assets€8.011 billion (2007)[1]
Number of employees
430 (2007)[1]

Exista hf. is an Icelandic financial services group formerly listed on the Iceland Stock Exchange. Its activities are based primarily on insurance underwriting and other financial services, although it is also active in investments. The group’s primary market is the Nordic countries.


The Luxembourg-registered Exista S.A. has changed its name several times. It was originally Compagnie Financiere Scandinave.

A report published in the Danish media in 2005 identified two owners:[2]

The paper trail shows that:

  • Both companies owned a stake in the Luxembourg-registered corporation Gaumur Holding, which was controlling owner of Baugur Group.[2]
  • Both companies owned a stake in the Luxembourg-registered corporation Compagnie Financiere Scandinave. A month after incorporation it was renamed the Scandinavian Holding and later Meidur.[2] It was then renamed Exista.
  • Both companies owned a stake in the Luxembourg-registered corporation Alrosa Finance. Another shareholder was Russian state-owned diamond company ALROSA.[2]
  • Shapburg Limited owned a stake in the Luxembourg-registered corporation Alfa Finance Holdings. Another shareholder was Alfa-Bank of Russia.[2]


According to a report, Luxembourg-registered Compagnie Financiere Scandinave was renamed the Scandinavian Holding a month after incorporation. Later it was renamed Meidur S.A..[2] Meidur changed its name to Exista.[3]

Exista was founded in 2001 by a consortium of Icelandic savings banks as a vehicle to hold shares in Kaupthing Bank.[4] A controlling shareholding in Exista was sold to a holding company of Bakkavör founders Ágúst and Lýdur Gudmundsson in 2002.[4] In September 2006 the firm was floated on the Iceland Stock Exchange in a €2.6 billion initial public offering, the biggest in the country's history.[5] The Gudmundsson brothers continue however to hold a near-45% stake in the business.[6] The company was delisted from the exchange in December 2008 following a share buyback.

By 9 October 2008, Kaupthing Bank HF was forced into government receivership.[7] On 29 July 2009 WikiLeaks exposed a confidential 210 page document listing Kaupthing's exposure to loans ranging from €45 million–1.25 billion.[8] The leaked presentation revealed the bank had loaned billions of euros to its major shareholders, including a total of €1.43 billion to Exista and subsidiaries which own 23% of the bank.[9]


Insurance and financial services[edit]

Exista owns the Icelandic non-life insurance company Vátryggingarfélag Íslands (VÍS), which holds around one-third of the domestic market.[10] Exista acquired control of VÍS from Kaupthing Bank in 2006.[11] The firm also owns VÍS's sister company, the life cover provider Lífís. Exista's third consolidated subsidiary is Lýsing, which is a provider of asset financing.


Prior to the 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis, Exista held a number of significant stakes in publicly traded companies. It opted to divest many of these, including 20% of Sampo Group,[12] 8.7% of Storebrand[13] and 39.6% of Bakkavör,[14] in October 2008 in order to boost its capital position. It was also the largest single shareholder (with almost 25%) of Kaupthing Bank before its de facto nationalisation by the Icelandic government.[15]

Currently Exista holds a 29% share of JJB Sports in conjunction with its chief executive Chris Ronnie,[16] and is the sole owner of Skipti, the parent company of Icelandic telecommunications provider Síminn.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2007" (PDF). Exista. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  2. ^ Ásgeir Jónsson. Why Iceland?. p. 92.
  3. ^ a b "About Exista: Chronicle". Exista. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  4. ^ Chung, Joanna (15 September 2006). "On Europe: IPO temperature starts to rise". Financial Times. Retrieved 2008-10-31.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Investor Relations: Shareholders". Exista. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2010-12-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Bank Run at Kaupthing forces seizure
  7. ^ https://wikileaks.org/wiki/Financial_collapse:_Confidential_exposure_analysis_of_205_companies_each_owing_above_%E2%82%AC45M_to_Icelandic_bank_Kaupthing%2C_26_Sep_2008
  8. ^ Bowers, Simon (2009-08-04). "Confidential Kaupthing corporate loan details leaked on the internet". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
  9. ^ "Iceland's Exista Trading hikes stake in Storebrand to 5.56 pct". AFX News. Forbes. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  10. ^ "Kaupthing Bank hf sells 24% stake in VIS eignarhaldsfelag hf". Nordic Business Report. FindArticles. 31 May 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  11. ^ Young, Brett (7 October 2008). "Sampo says Exista decided to sell stake in it". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  12. ^ Acher, John (9 October 2008). "Norway's Gjensidige buys Exista's Storebrand shares". Reuters. Forbes. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  13. ^ Pollard, Niklas (10 October 2008). "Iceland's Exista says to sell Bakkavor stake". Reuters. Forbes. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  14. ^ Power, Helen (11 October 2008). "UK companies locked out of Landsbanki accounts". The Times. London. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  15. ^ "JJB Sports sell-off to ensure survival". Evening Standard. This is Money. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  16. ^ "Business Areas: Investments". Exista. Archived from the original on 2007-05-18. Retrieved 2008-10-31.

External links[edit]