PLAY (Iceland) (OG, Reykjavik Keflavik) claims to have raised about USD40 million through a private share offering, its new investors including some of Iceland’s biggest investment firms and pension funds, the newspaper Fréttablaðið reported in separate articles on April 9 and April 14.

Birgir Jónsson, a former deputy chief executive and managing director at now-bankrupt WOW air (Reykjavik Keflavik), will take over as chief executive of the would-be low-cost carrier on the investors’ request.

Sources told the newspaper that the new share capital had come courtesy of private investors such as Stoðir, formed in 1973 as a holding company for Loftleidir Icelandic and Air Iceland and, later, Icelandair Group, a stake it sold in 2006.

Other investors participating in the offering include Langasjós, which owns the wholesale food distributor Mata, and the family-owned investment firm Brimgarður. Einar Örn Ólafsson, a shareholder in Stoðir, leads a group of private investors who insisted on appointing Jónsson as CEO.

Birta and Lífsverk are among institutional investors that have resolved to invest. The pension funds have urged PLAY to list on the Nasdaq First North stock exchange in the coming months. The company aims to do so in June in the hope of raising a further USD20 million, according to Fréttablaðið’s sources.

The funds add to about USD8 million that a group of investors, including Elías Skúli Skúlason, chairman of the board and co-owner of the ground handler Airport Associates, have already provided to the start-up. Raising PLAY’s share capital has the objective of getting a broad group of financially strong investors into the airline’s shareholders group.

On April 14, it emerged that Skúlason’s holding company FEA, Ólafsson’s vehicle Fiskisund, and the pension fund Birta will be the three largest shareholders in Play, with stakes of about 20%, 15%, and 15% respectively. However, FEA, which has been financing Play’s operations in recent months, will be dissolved when the airline is listed on First North, according to Fréttablaðið.

Initially announced in July 2019 under the working title WAB Air, or We Are Back, in the aftermath of WOW’s bankruptcy by a number of its former employees, PLAY has yet to operate any flights and does not hold an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).