The second richest man in Icelandic history has filed for bankruptcy, his spokesman said Friday.
Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, the brewer-turned-billionaire and former
owner of the West Ham soccer club, applied for bankruptcy
protection at Reykjavik district court, 96 billion Icelandic kronur
($759 million) in debt, Asgeir Fridgeirsson said.
It is the largest bankruptcy filing in Icelandic history.
Gudmundsson was the elder half of a father-and-son pair of
billionaires whose success was synonymous with the country's
debt-fueled economic miracle. But their fortunes faltered when the
Icelandic economy imploded last year under the impact of the credit
Gudmundsson, 68, and his son, 42-year-old Bjorgolfur Thor
Bjorgolfsson, still Iceland's richest man, were major shareholders
in Iceland's second largest bank, Landsbanki, which failed in
October. Gudmundsson's holding company, Hansa, has since gone into
liquidation and West Ham has been taken over by his creditors.
In December, Forbes magazine, which once rated his personal
fortune at $1.4 billion, revised his net worth to zero.
Gudmundsson's son remains a billionaire.
It is not the first time the Gudmundsson has gotten into
trouble. Already a successful shipping executive in the 1980s, he
was charged with fraud and embezzlement in the aftermath of the
1985 collapse of his firm Hafskip. He was eventually found guilty
on five minor counts and escaped a jail sentence, serving 12
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