Business Irish

Saturday 3 December 2016

Government to sign off on ESB share buyback

Published 25/05/2015 | 02:30

ESB crew Michael Stack and Denny Walsh from Tralee working in North Kerry after last year’s storms
ESB crew Michael Stack and Denny Walsh from Tralee working in North Kerry after last year’s storms

ESB workers are in line for a €100m payout as the Government prepares to sign off on a plan to buy back shares from staff.

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The Government doled out the shares to ESB staff in 2011 in lieu of a pay increase through an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).

ESB ESOP members own 5pc of the company, with 99 million stock units having been acquired by the ESOP in 2011 for almost €76m. The shares are notionally allocated to eligible ESOP participants.

However, workers say the value of the shares has not been realised because they have not had any buyers for them.

Now though, the Government is preparing to buy the shares back from its current and retired employees, according to weekend reports.

While no decision has yet been made on whether or not the buyback will go ahead, it would be a surprise if the State does not go ahead with the plans.

While the Government plan calls for a buyback of about €100m, there have been suggestions that the value of the buyback should be doubled to around €200m.

ESB pensioners have been particularly vocal that the value of the buyback should be increased.

Last year, based on a valuation of around €4bn for the ESB as a whole, the members of the ESOP control a €200m stake between them - making their minority holding larger than many entire stock market-listed companies.

ESOP participants who are no longer employed by the ESB have to sell their shares within three years of leaving the semi-state company, while only ESB workers who were with the company during or prior to 2002 can buy shares.

Irish Independent

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