Iceland MP called out over dividend claim

Arnarlax farm, Iceland

Icelandic salmon producer Arnarlax has clashed with one of the country’s MPs, who claimed that the company has paid out huge sums in share dividends.

The statement was made in a speech by Gísla Rafn Ólafsson who is a member of the Pirate Party in the Althingi.

A new long term aquaculture bill is being debated by Icelandic MPs and has attracted passionately strong views on both sides of the fish farming argument.

Ólafsson claimed that Arnarlax, which was founded 15 years ago, had paid billions in Icelandic kroner to shareholders in recent years. £1 sterling is worth 177 ISK. The MP was almost certainly referring to SalMar which now has a 52% stake in Arnarlax, but that was not made clear in the debate.

Arnarlax, which is part of the larger Icelandic Salmon company, has responded by stating that it has never paid out a dividend in its 15-year history. The company added: “Actually, the MP mentioned at one point in his speech that he was referring to the largest shareholder in Arnarlax, which is a decade-old Norwegian fish farming company that is doing extremely well.

“However, he then attributed the dividends to Arnarlax shortly afterwards in the same speech, as did the Minister of Food in response to the MP’s speech. There, therefore, no distinction was made between a large shareholder and the Icelandic company. “

It pointed out that Arnarlax has hundreds of shareholders, both Icelandic and foreign who hoped the company would be successful and pay long term returns to savers.

“The development of Arnarlax has taken a long time and the company lost a significant amount of capital up front, but since then has been using the company’s operating surplus to develop its operations in the Westfjords and the South,” the statement added.

Iceland’s Pirate Party belongs to the global Pirate movement and is an advocate of government transparency and the protection of privacy and civil liberties.

It has three members in the Icelandic parliament elected under the country’s proportional representation system. They were the first Pirates in the world to become part of a national parliament.

Ólafsson has yet to respond to the Arnarlax statement.

Gisli Rafn Olafsson, member of the Icelandic Parliament

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