In a “disclosure of a large shareholding” to the Oslo Stock Exchange, HBK Holding has halved its stake in Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) from 9.99% to 4.64%. HBK is owned by the carrier's former executives Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Kise.

The holding company sold 617,269 shares in Norwegian on March 31, equal to 0.38% of the shares in the low-cost long-haul carrier. After the sale, HBK owned 7,581,127 shares, equal to approximately 4.64% of the outstanding shares in Norwegian.

The shares were trading at around NOK9.2 kronor (USD0.88) on the day of the transaction, which would value the sale at NOK5,678,875 (USD546,473).

Kjos and Kise are no longer involved in the management of the airline and have gradually cut their stake in the company. Their investment firm held 19.6 million shares in Norwegian in mid-February. At the start of 2018, HBK Holding owned 26.8% of the shares, but a year later this had dropped to around 17%.

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Norwegian has temporarily laid off 90% of its employees and grounded most of its aircraft. As previously reported, the Norwegian government has issued a rescue package for the carrier subject to a number of conditions.

However, on March 25, the carrier’s shares shot up by 35% when HBK asked short-sellers of the stock to return shares it had lent out, Reuters reported at the time.

“HBK Holding AS has decided to request redelivery to HBK of the shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA currently having been lent in the market by HBK,” Kjos said.

“HBK needs some better liquidity. In a world where we do not know what will happen next week and hardly enough today, we called back the shares to have complete freedom and access to all our assets,” Kise wrote in a comment, also at the time, to the online business newspaper E24 Næringsliv.