Feuding Icelandic businessmen prepare to fight it out in court

Robert Wessman, long-term colleague and defender of Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, has begun legal proceedings against Bjorgolfsson’s company, Novator. He is claiming ISK 4.5 billion (USD 40.8 million).

Robert Wessman was the president of Actavis (formerly Delta) from 1999 to 2008 and presided over its transformation from a small Icelandic pharmaceutical into a global generics leader. In 2008, Wessman left his job at Actavis and he and Bjorgolfsson have been publicly debating the reason for his departure since. Wessman denies strongly that he was sacked.

Wessman has now decided to claim EUR 30 million in alleged unpaid dividends against Novator Pharma Holding and Novator Pharma Luxembourg, daughter companies of Novator, which is Bjorgolfsson’s investment compant and the biggest shareholder in Actavis.

The fore-story was in 2007, when Bjorgolfsson bought other shareholders out of Actavis in the biggest take-over in Icelandic history. Wessman made a contract with the two Novator companies on the sale of his 12 percent stake. A portion of the money was to be paid out straight away in cash and the rest was a loan. In addition to this, Wessman was promised a special “success fee” by the end of 2009, partly to pay off the loan. Wessman says he received an email from Bjorgolfsson in September last year saying that it was highly unlikely the success fee would be paid, given the weak position of Actavis at the time. Visir.is reports that the current legal proceedings are only a small part of the complicated current relations between the two businessmen.

A Novator spokesperson told reporters, on the other hand, that Wessman’s case does not stand up to scrutiny and that he is personally in debt to both Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson and Actavis.

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