Chinese investor Huang Nubo has applied for a concessionary exemption allowing him to rent land in north Iceland on a long-term basis in order to build a luxury resort there. He also wants to build a five-star hotel in Reykjavík.
Huang Nubo’s application to buy the land at Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum caused a major government rift last year and ended up with Minister for the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson denying him an exemption from the law barring non-EEA businesses from buying land in Iceland. Left Green minister Ögmundur’s government associates in the Social Democrats were unhappy at his decision — especially Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism Katrín Júlíusdóttir and Kristján Möller; head of the Alþingi industry committee. Together they declared they would try and help the Chinese investor invest in Iceland and called a meeting with his representative.
Now it seems a solution has been found thanks to a one-year-old law which allows the industry minister to grant concessions allowing foreigners to control land use and resources which would otherwise need to be controlled by Icelandic citizens. The law relates solely to brand new investment in Iceland and still precludes Huang Nubo from buying the land; but he may be able to lease it on a long-term basis. A special concessionary committee made up of representatives of the ministries of industry, finance and trade must agree to recommend that the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism give out such a concession to a particular company or individual.
Huang Nubo’s application for the concession is dated 18th January and it calls for Mr. Huang to be allowed to long-term-lease part of Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum and for an Icelandic company owned by him to be allowed to build and operate a 100-room luxury hotel. It also calls for the same company to be able to build and operate a five-star hotel in the Reykjavík area.
According to Vísir.is, the law means the decision will be in the hands of the industry minister and will not depend on Ögmundur Jónasson’s support at the Minister of the Interior. However, Katrín Júlíusdóttir’s approaching maternity leave complicates the matter, as it is not certain who will temporarily take her place as Minister of Indistry, Energy and Tourism, or even whether that minister will come from the Social Democrats or the Left Greens.