Billions to Bust and Back PDF/EPUB ¾ Bust and


Billions to Bust and Back Thor Bjorgolfsson is a self styled adventure capitalist with an addiction to debt and an insatiable appetite for business deals who became Iceland's first billionaire After 10 years establishing his financial empire with alco pops and beer in the lawless 'Wild East' of newly capitalist Russia in the 1990s he moved on to merging floating spinning off and privatising businesses from Finland to Sweden Poland Bulgaria Serbia Greece and the Czech Republic On his 40th birthday and worth 35 billion he was sitting on top of the world; only 250 people in it were richer than him His most spectacular triumph was the takeover of Iceland's second largest bank Landsbanki he had expected his investment's value to double or treble in four years and instead it rose ten foldBut when financial meltdown hit Iceland in October 2008 Landsbanki crashed and burned taking Bjorgolfsson with it Within 12 months he had lost 33 billion euros 985% of his wealth and was treated as a scapegoat in his native country for supposedly bringing about the disaster Faced with appalling debts Bjorgolfsson has made good on his promises to repay his creditors and at the age of 47 is now a billionaire once again

  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Billions to Bust and Back
  • Thor Bjorgolfsson
  • 04 May 2016
  • 9781781253694

10 thoughts on “Billions to Bust and Back

  1. Breakingviews Breakingviews says:

    By uentin WebbBjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson embodies Iceland’s volcanic rise and fall He made a fortune in Eastern Europe lost a bank in 2008 and caused Deutsche Bank years of grief His memoir “Billions to Bust and Back Again” is self critical but unlikely to win him new friends in ReykjavikThis book is doubly notable Even by the standards of a bubbly anything goes era Iceland’s brief cameo in world finance was odd And – former AIG chief Hank Greenberg aside bosses and bankers vilified for the global financial crisis have generally kept uietThere’s a lot of ground to cover Bjorgolfsson got started in St Petersburg where he navigated the post communist chaos including death threats to build a big brewer which Heineken eventually bought for 400 million He dismisses persistent talk of mafia ties as “nonsense” He says he kept a low profile and relied on a senior ex KGB officer to scare off troublemakers Other deals followed in Bulgaria Czech Republic and elsewhereGradually his focus shifted back towards Iceland culminating in 2007 with the 7 billion buyout of Reykjavik listed drugmaker Actavis The self styled “deal junkie” took his chances starting with extreme leverage The 125 ratio of debt to earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization is than twice the level that worries US bank watchdogs today Bjorgolfsson also skimped on due diligence And his lenders at Deutsche Bank refused to spread the risk by cutting rivals in on the deal “I saw their eyes gleam and I took their money” he writesIt all went horribly wrong Actavis had trouble with US regulators and debt markets froze so Deutsche could not sell on the debt An Actavis collapse would have blown a 4 billion euro hole in the bank’s balance sheet “Some bankers even said to us that this could lead to the German chancellor Angela Merkel taking the keys to Deutsche Bank” he writesThat fear of a messy Actavis insolvency perhaps helped Bjorgolfsson stay onboard through a restructuring In 2012 Actavis was sold out to Watson which took the acuired company’s name and began a takeover spree that built up to the 66 billion purchase of Allergan Bjorgolfsson wangled an earn out and now has than 1 billion in Actavis sharesBetrayalBack at home Bjorgolfsson had serious trouble with Landsbanki His father Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson was chairman of the bank that collapsed in 2008 along with rivals Kaupthing and Glitnir The two men together effectively held a controlling stake The son calls the government’s failure to save Landsbanki – the state tried abortively to help Kaupthing instead “the biggest betrayal of my life”That emergency loan to Kaupthing was indeed a bad decision and one that remains unexplained And Iceland’s crash reflects poorly on many people complacent politicians asleep at the wheel regulators and the heavy handed British who resorted to anti terrorism lawsBut come on The banks lent huge sums to their own and each others’ major shareholders and grew crazily assets went from twice to ten times GDP in five years Panicky officials may have been terrible crisis managers but the banks laid the groundwork for the crisis Iceland’s robust special prosecutor has since secured convictions with jail terms against several bank executivesMoreover disputes with the British and Dutch over Landsbanki’s Icesave product posed such a threat to national interests that the nation rejected two repayment deals in referendums Bjorgolfsson says correctly that most of the Icesave money will be recovered by winding up Landsbanki But it has been a painful processWhat is this book for? It is not exactly an apology though Bjorgolfsson admits being vain and hubristic His blame casting and complaints about his countrymen’s conformity and cronyism won’t help the author who has long been based in London mend many bridges in IcelandIf anything it reads like an entrepreneur’s manual punctuated with platitudes “everything is temporary” and complete with a superficial discussion of global challenges It would be interesting to know what he means precisely by two passing references to a looming new crash On that topic it is worth heeding the warnings of someone who weathered Russia’s crisis in 1998 and was center stage in Iceland’s a decade later

  2. Christopher Lewis Kozoriz Christopher Lewis Kozoriz says:

    Focus is the single most important skill you need in business along with clear vision Thor Bjorgolfsson Billions to Bust and Back Page 198Written by Iceland's first billionaire He is also the first business person to be involved in bankrupting the entire country He basically started from nothing and created a soft drink company and then a beer company which he later sold The beer company he sold to Heineken for millions of dollars in 2002 as they wanted to enter the Russian beer market and his company had a popular brandMost of the book covers the gross mistake he made in his home country of Iceland He the government his partners and others basically over leveraged Iceland's banking industry This caused the financial collapse of Iceland He takes responsibility in this book for his role and also shares how things could have been different if the government would have had better regulation etc He kind of shifts the blame around a bit so that it doesn't all fall on him He is a risk taker by nature He has since bounced back to billionaire status after his and his country's financial collapse mostly with assets he had previously owned before the crash He is sometimes right on deals and sometimes wrong; however his rights have taken him back to billionaire status again and he seems to be very repentant and willing to moderate his behaviour now He has an itch to make deals leverage and take risk in order to reap great rewards He now states he has checks and balances to prevent him from getting into too much trouble

  3. Vitalijus Sostak Vitalijus Sostak says:

    This book was so so for me disappointingThe goodJuicy setting author is mostly focused Iceland in the run up to 2008 crash and several years thereafterAccording to the book Central Bank of Iceland was the only central bank to have gone completely bankrupt That was a result of excessive debt Icelands' external debt to GDP 6x and has resulted in bankruptcy of all Icelanding banks only financial institutions to go bankrupt with A ratingThe greatStory about how author earned his first 100M in Russia in the 1990ies by building up developing then selling brewery business Fascinating times interesting anecdotes and goes a bit into details perhaps because it's all water under the bridgeThe bad and that's half of the book if not Endless ramblings about crony capitalism with close knit business and politics society in Iceland and how author was unfairly treated thereMajor flaw way too little details on actual business transactions reasoning behind them etc Without that for me personally this book loses its sense it's just was rich then everything crashed then slowly worked to earn wealth back story with not much morale or insight

  4. Sam Sam says:

    It’s fine if you’re just looking for a human interest story but as a business book it was seriously lacking in detail To be fair Bjorgolfsson does provide an account every major venture and business deal done in his career up to c 2014 but the explanation of each of those businesses feels far too shallow When you read the book it’s easy to understand his rationale for the decisions he made leading up to and immediately following the financial crisis of 20072008 but it’s hard to get a sense of how precisely Bjorgolfsson was involved in their successI was expecting valuable timeless insight from one of the world’s most successful businesspeople What I got instead was a ‘celebrity biography’ style reaction to the financial crisis It’s as if the author didn’t want to show too much agency and intelligence in case it opened up room for public criticism which is frustrating because that makes it so much harder to understand what makes him different as a businessman

  5. Tirath Tirath says:

    Very candid and hence refreshing to read about a billionaire's fall from grace1 His Russia experience in setting up a successful business there2 His experience with the mad lenders of the 2000s who were willing to fund his audacious dreams3 The personal stories of his relation with his father his partnerwife his kids and with his home country Iceland4 How talent plays a crucial role Iceland didnt have much in the financial arena5 A recognition of who he is and what drives himGreat stuff

  6. Uģis Balmaks Uģis Balmaks says:

    Crazy timeline from starting a company in the early 90s Russia to being worth billions of dollars to losing almost all of it in the ‘08 crash Was fun to learn about thatHis analysis of why he crashed and how it happened was of a rant though I didn’t enjoy that part of the book too much

  7. Kalle Wescott Kalle Wescott says:

    For me 2 stars for writing but 5 stars for the story which grabbed meSome good lessons for us all

  8. Rob Rob says:

    Whether you love or hate his mercenary style of operating you'll appreciate Bjorgolffson's storyStraightforward account doesn't waste time trying to convince you of his brilliance One of the most direct and seemingly honest autobiographies I've readAnd best of all there is zero virtue signalling — Bjorgolfsson doesn't try to convince you that he's a force for good changing the world or a raider wolf He shares what happens his perspective and leaves you to connect your own dots

  9. Renato Pires Renato Pires says:

    Great historyGreat history of Thor with recent facts of world economy Inspiration for all entrepreneurs Thank you a lot for this book

  10. Einar Einar says:

    Given that the dust has largely settled following the financial crisis in Iceland one would have expected this book to be a well edited piece of work especially given the author’s attitude towards his own reputation and public imageIn reality the book feels rushed poorly constructed and almost as if it has not been edited at all The bizarre prognostications towards the end are just that bizarre and left this reader in a state of confusion Does Mr Björgólfsson see himself as absolved of any responsibility in the eyes of the Icelandic public and that the logical progression of his renaissance is to address the largest issues facing human kind? I honestly don’t knowHaving said all this it is easy to understand why this book is published now and not a couple of years back First of all people like Mr Björgólfsson have not exactly had a particularly sympathetic audience in Iceland perhaps why this book is published in English Secondly he has now rebuilt his wealth to a large extent and is once again writing from the point of view of a winner He has settled his debts met his obligations and emerged on the other side in rather good nick As for the book itself it does provide interesting insights into what is a fascinating career in investment and finance across many turbulent jurisdictions It fills in the several blanks that have existed when it comes to Mr Björgólfsson’s business history as well as in his glamorous private life Anyone interested in the high flying lifestyles of the super rich would be interested in this book particularly those who take an interest in the matters of IcelandBut it is poorly written and edited This is a shame as there is wealth of interesting material to build on One cannot help but think that the tone and structure of the book is the way it is because Mr Björgólfsson has a number of points that he wishes to make and does so again and again This is to the book’s detriment and is reflected in my rating

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