In 2017, the Bank paid ISK 9.5bn in tax, including ISK 4.5bn in bank tax and other special taxes. Friðrik criticised the authorities for not having revoked the bank tax, as was planned at the time the tax was imposed in 2010. The tax erodes the banks’ competitive position, which is extremely unfortunate at a time when competition has never been stiffer – from Icelandic and foreign fintech companies and other tax-free entities in Iceland’s shadow banking sector.
Friðrik also reviewed the steps Íslandsbanki has taken in response to discussion of gender-based discrimination. He described so-called barber shop workshops in the Bank and reported on other meetings where the CEO and managers had opened up the discussion on gender discrimination. Friðrik reiterated that such discrimination would not be tolerated in any way at Íslandsbanki, and he encouraged other firms to address the issue decisively. The Bank is ready and willing to fulfil statutory requirements for equal pay certification so as to ensure equal rights irrespective of gender.
A year of building, but also of strong growth and profitability
CEO Birna Einarsdóttir gave an overview of the Bank’s operations in 2017. The Bank turned in good results, with a profit of ISK 13.2bn after tax and a 10.3% return on core operations, which was in line with expectations. Birna expressed her satisfaction with the Bank’s healthy lending growth, noting that the loan portfolio had expanded by 9.8% and that consolidated commission and fee income had increased between years. She emphasised that the Bank was very robust financially: all risk metrics were well within set thresholds, the non-performing loan ratio had fallen to 1%, and the Bank’s liquidity and capital adequacy ratios remained strong.
Birna noted that 2017 had been a building year for Íslandsbanki, with the move to new headquarters, a changed organisational structure, further streamlining of the branch network, and progress made on renewing core systems for payment intermediation and deposits. The Bank continued to prepare for a new international regulatory framework, technological challenges, and the prospect of new competitors in the market. Strong foundations will doubtless give the Bank increased strength for advancement in coming years and will present an opportunity to provide customers with even better service, with particular focus on digital solutions. Íslandsbanki was the top-ranked bank in the Icelandic Customer Satisfaction Index for the fifth year in a row and was named Bank of the Year 2017 by The Banker.
Birna also reported that funding efforts had been very successful during the year, and the Bank has maintained its position as Iceland’s leading issuer of covered bonds, with issuance of ISK 42bn. The Bank was also Iceland’s first bank to issue subordinated bonds abroad since 2008, thereby taking a decisive step towards improving its funding structure. Demand among foreign investors has been brisk, highlighting their interest and confidence in the Bank. The Bank’s credit ratings were upgraded to BBB+/A- by Standard & Poor's and to BBB/F3 by Fitch. Íslandsbanki is the only Icelandic bank that is rated by two international rating agencies.
Results of the AGM
The proposals presented to the AGM can be found on the Bank’s website.
Confirmation of annual accounts for 2017
The AGM approved the Bank’s audited consolidated annual accounts for 2017.
Decision on payment of dividends and disposal of profit for 2017
The AGM approved a dividend payment of ISK 13bn to the Bank’s shareholders for 2017 profits. From the year 2013 dividend payments have reached ISK 73bn. The Board was also authorised to call an extraordinary shareholders' meeting later in the year, as a proposal for payment of dividends on previous operating years could be presented.
Election of Board members and alternates
The following were re-elected to the Board of Directors: Anna Þórðardóttir, Auður Finnbogadóttir, Árni Stefánsson, Hallgrímur Snorrason, Heiðrún Jónsdóttir, Helga Valfells, and Friðrik Sophusson, who was also re-elected Chairman of the Board. Herdís Gunnarsdóttir and Pálmi Kristinsson were re-elected as alternates.
Election of external auditing firm
It was agreed that Ernst & Young will remain the Bank’s external auditing firm until the next AGM.
Decision on remuneration to the Board for the upcoming term
Changes to Board members’ and alternates’ remuneration were approved.
Board proposal on employment terms policy
The Bank’s employment terms policy was approved unamended.
No other business was lawfully proposed at the meeting.
Minutes of the AGM
Other documents from the AGM can be found at www.islandsbanki.is and on the Bank’s Investor Relations pages: www.islandsbanki.is/ir
The Bank’s reports for 2017 can be found on its website.