Icelandic banker exits Storebrand board

OSLO, March 4 (Reuters) - The former executive chairman of failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, has resigned from the board of Norwegian insurance company Storebrand STB.OL, the insurer said on Wednesday.

Einarsson joined the Storebrand board in January 2008 after Kaupthing Bank became one of the insurance company’s biggest owners.

He resigned from Kaupthing in October when it and Iceland’s other major banks fell into the hands of regulators in a wholesale collapse of the tiny Atlantic island nation’s financial industry, which had expanded rapidly across Europe.

Storebrand has long been seen as a potential takeover target because it has remained outside larger Scandinavian financial services groups created in recent decades.

Kaupthing’s expansion in Scandinavia made it and its fund group Arion among the biggest owners of Storebrand, with more than 20 percent of the stock, causing Norwegian regulators to worry in 2007 of an Icelandic takeover.

Icelandic investment services firm Exista, which had been a major owner of Kaupthing, also took a position in Storebrand but sold in October to Norwegian insurer Gjensidige, which is now the top owner.

The Kaupthing Bank under administration by Icelandic regulators remains the second-biggest Storebrand shareholder, with a 5.5 percent stake, and Arion Custody is fourth largest, with a 4.5 percent stake. (Reporting by John Acher, editing by Will Waterman)