BREAKING THE ICE

Iceland may have a total population of less than 300,000 and be noted more for its hot springs and geysers than its corporate finance industry, but Reykjavik-based Islandsbanki – one of the country's three largest banks with a market capitalisation of just under €1 billion – is seeking to change perceptions.

Islandsbanki's corporate finance arm, ISB Corporate Finance, launched a new operation in London in June 2004 and has just completed its second major deal since then. It advised the management team of Oakdale Bakeries, a Leeds-based supplier of private label cakes, on the buyout of the business from founder Marshall Capel for an undisclosed sum. ISB Integrated Finance, the bank's debt finance arm, provided senior debt, mezzanine and equity for the deal.

This followed the team's role as lead adviser on the sale of 80 percent of Seachill Limited, a Scottish chilled fish supplier, to Icelandic seafood group Icelandic in July for around £37 million.

Petur Einarsson, head of ISB in London says the London move was motivated by the bank's desire to expand beyond its small domestic market. Noting that the other advisers on the Oakdale MBO hailed from Leeds, Warrington and Exeter, PEI felt it necessary to enquire whether Einarsson ever felt – how can one put it – culturally challenged? “Oh, absolutely,” he replies. “But by the second or third meeting, we really found ourselves quite accepted. We could just as easily be Swedish or Swiss.”