The first publicly traded stock exchange in Iceland – Kauphöll Íslands – did not come into existence until the year 1985. Icelandic Government Bonds started trading on the exchange in 1986 and the first listed equity securities started trading in 1990.
In 2006, the Kauphöll Íslands merged with OMX Nordic Exchange and only a year later, OMX – which at that time controlled 7 Nordic and Baltic exchanges – was acquired by Nasdaq. After the financial crises of 2007-2008, the stock exchange was nearly wiped out in its entirety as banks were a significant part of the total market capitalization and many other constituencies where overleveraged.
After reaching a peak of 3495.28 on the 20th of July 2007, the OMX Iceland All-Shares Index collapsed to its bottom at 167.77 on April 8, 2009, a fall of 95.2% from top to bottom. Nine years later, the index was yet to reach 670.
As noted before, most of the casualties were financial institutions, but who were the survivors? When the dust had settled, 4 companies still traded on the OMX Iceland. What they all had in common was that they did their market area extended outside of Iceland.
- Icelandair Group is a holding company that owns operating subsidiaries active in the airline industry, hotels, travel agency other travel-related companies, primarily active on the Icelandic travel market
- Marel specializes in the development and production of highly technical production equipment for the fish, poultry and meat industries. The company operates in over 30 countries and is by far the biggest of the four based on market capitalization.
- Nýherji (now rebranded into Origo) is an IT company with operations in Iceland and Denmark. Tempo Software is a fully owned subsidiary of Origo.
- Össur specialized in the development and production of non-invasive orthopaedics equipment and prosthetics. The company operates in 15 countries and is also listed on the Danish stock exchange.
First North Iceland
The First North stock exchange is Nasdaq’s European growth market, designed for small and growing companies. Although the market runs parallel to the main OMX market and shares are traded in the trading system, the First North uses a less extensive rulebook than the main market. This makes listing more attainable to smaller companies.
After the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, three stock traded on First North Iceland:
- Icelandic Seafood.
- Sláturfélag Suðurlands B-shares.