Iceland's Mest goes bust

By Patrick Hill12 August 2008

Iceland's Mest ehf, the importer for Bomag, Liebherr, Peri and Niftylift in the country and operator of a construction equipment rental business, has gone into bankruptcy.

Mest's bank, Glitnir, told IRN that the company had entered into the Icelandic equivalent of the US Chapter 7 (liquidation of assets) bankruptcy. Prior to taking that step, the concrete and paving contracting part of Mest became a separate company, Steypustöðin MEST ehf, according to its chief executive officer, Hannes Sigurgeirsson, and operates today.

As well as selling a wide range of building materials and construction equipment, Mest had started to build an equipment rental business. Last year, the head of the company's construction equipment division, Hjalti Mar Bjarnason, told IRN that he expected the demand for construction equipment rental to double within the next five years, and that rental could account for up to 10% of the company's €150 million revenues in 2007.

Mest had been operating in Iceland current economic slump. GDP fell by 4% in the first quarter of the year, and its equity index and currency have both fallen in value by around 30% since the start of 2008.

Jón Geir Sigurbjörnsson, the Mest employee who managed Mest's dealerships in Iceland, left the company in early July and has established himself as a consultant, providing advice for companies wishing to sell equipment in Iceland.

Steypustöðin, the name of the surviving company, was the name for Mest when it was founded in 1947. It became Iceland's leading supplier of cement and concrete and in 2006 merged with Merkur and was renamed Mest.

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