Business Irish

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Farmers' play for FBD unlikely despite insurer's drop in value

IFA President Padraig Walshe
IFA President Padraig Walshe
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

The prospect of FBD's largest shareholder making a play for the business appears remote after the chairman of Farmer Business Developments, which owns 25pc of the embattled insurer, said he didn't think his shareholders wanted it.

There is an appetite among some elements of the farming community for farmers to step up their involvement in FBD following its recent share price slump. However Padraig Walshe, chairman of Farmer Business Developments and a director of the insurer itself, said he thought the company had a bright future as things stand. "The fundamentals of the company are still sound, and I expect it to return to profitability in the near future," Walshe said.

"With regard to the issue of the farmers buying it back, I don't think it's a runner. I don't think our shareholders would want to do that. Most of them have shares in the plc as well and want to see a profitable plc that will increase shareholder value."

He said he did not think there was an appetite for Farmer Business Developments to increase its stake above its current 25pc, with the proviso that he did not want to pre-empt any decisions that might be taken by the board.

Separately, Farmer Business Developments is working on a plan to buy FBD out of its 50pc stake in a joint venture in the hotel and leisure industry. The move, if it proceeds, would bolster FBD's balance sheet ahead of the introduction of new regulatory requirements in January. An FBD spokesperson said plans are on course for FBD "to continue to be in full compliance with all requirements by the due date".

Sunday Indo Business

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