Business Irish

Monday 22 September 2014

Ex-ESB staff call for employee share plan to be wound up

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

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Former employers of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) are calling for an employee share ownership plan to be wound up
Former employers of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) are calling for an employee share ownership plan to be wound up

Retired members of the ESB employee share ownership plan (ESOP) have called for the unit to be wound up and for the energy firm to redeem shares acquired on their behalf.

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Up to 60 retired ESB members protested outside the company's headquarters in Dublin yesterday.

Jimmy Keating, the chairman of the ESB ESOP Action Committee, told the Irish Independent that they were there to highlight what he claimed were imbalances and inefficiencies in the current system for trading the ESB shares in the so-called grey market.

That trading has been fraught since the first trading day in 2012. One trading day was held that year and the ESOP stepped in to buy 3.6 million of the shares - virtually all that were traded.

No trading day was held last year, while the latest was held yesterday.

Mr Keating insisted the grey market isn't fit for purpose and said he wants a ballot called for the winding up of the ESOP. He said the ESB should then redeem all the outstanding shares held by former and current staff.

The ESOP trustee, David Beattie, has previously recognised difficulties with the grey market for the ESB shares. He has acknowledged that there's illiquidity and in April called on the ESB and ESB Group of Unions to deliver a viable solution to deal with that. The ESB said it continues to work with the ESOP and the Group of Unions to explore how the challenges can be addressed.

Retired members are in a position where they have to sell their shares by next summer, meaning that they could receive next to nothing for them.

Separately, the Siptu pensions committee at Aer Lingus was yesterday updating staff about the structure of a proposed new defined contribution pension scheme at the airline.

The scheme is intended to serve active staff members who are currently members of the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme, which has a near €800m deficit.

Irish Independent

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