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A vital task and a great responsibility

HB Grandi’s CEO, Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson, sent yesterday the following letter to every employee of the company.

Dear colleagues.

We are experiencing a flood of negative press about sinister events and a difficult situation. I do not want to burden you by adding to this.

But I would like to take the opportunity to inform you of what the implications are for ourselves. By this I mean those of us who form the group of people known as HB Grandi.

The root of the much-discussed problems centres on the banks and their shortage of foreign currency to meet their obligations. The emphasis in seeking a solution to the situation has been in finding ways to obtain increased amounts of foreign currency. This has been done by selling assets or taking out loans. Assets can only be sold as long as they exist. Loans have to be repaid, however long that may take. The genuine origins of foreign currency have to lie with those companies producing goods that can be sold on overseas markets, bringing foreign currency earnings to the national economy. Fisheries are at the forefront of this and account for half of our country’s exports. Our company, HB Grandi, accounts for a tenth of this, so we can say that every twentieth króna’s worth of foreign currency that Iceland earns is brought here by us. This is a huge proportion, giving us a vital role to play and a great responsibility.

We have a duty to safeguard this role with the greatest care, regardless of whether we play a part in fishing, processing, marketing or any other of the many roles that are vital to the running of a large company. On the other hand, we find ourselves in the position that the country as a whole needs us as never before. At a time when many fear for their livelihoods and financial security, we can count ourselves fortunate to be secure.  Our jobs must not be lost.

I am, of course, aware that many of us will lose part of those savings that we have put into investments that it is now clear were not secure.  Some of us will find ourselves in difficulties meeting our financial obligations. There is bound to be a level of uncertainty over these issues in the coming days. The government’s main objective is to guarantee savings and to help households avoid bankruptcy. The government is also preparing aid for those who are in difficulties, such as with mortgage payments. But I would urge any of you who may find yourselves facing difficulties to seek this advice in good time.

Most importantly of all, we must have faith in the future. We live in a country that is wealthy in sought-after food and energy resources. We are a nation that is equal to the challenge that now faces us. We work for a company that has a solid foundation and which is set to play a central role during these turbulent times. We must not tire of reminding each other – colleagues, friends and family – of these positive aspects.

With these behind us, we can be sure of every success.

With best wishes
Eggert Benedikt.