Shareholders at ferry company's EGM back spend of up to €111m on tender offer
SHAREHOLDERS in ferry company ICG have overwhelmingly backed a plan by the firm to buy back as much as nearly 25pc of its stock at a cost of up to €111m.
At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) yesterday, shareholders in the company, which trades as Irish Ferries, gave the green light to the proposal for a tender offer that was tabled by the firm back in August.
The company has agreed to pay €18.50 per share under the terms of the offer, in a move that would propel its net debt to about €100m by the year end if the tender offer is fully subscribed. ICG is borrowing €110m to fund the share purchases.
Among those who could benefit from the approval is ICG chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, who owns just under 16pc of the company. Shares in the company were trading at €17.90 in Dublin yesterday.
Confirmation of the approval for the tender offer came as ICG said operating profit between July and the end of August climbed to €14.6m from €14m a year earlier. The two-month window represents ICG's key annual trading window.
It said that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to €17.5m for the period, from €17.1m. However, revenue softened slightly to €56.7m from €57.2m a year earlier.
ICG said that group revenue for the eight months to the end of August was €183.8m -- unchanged from the corresponding period in 2011, while EBITDA fell to €31.8m from €33.2 and operating profit by almost 4pc to 19.7m.
It said the decline in operating profit was primarily a result of higher fuel costs in the eight-month period. They rose to €38.7m from €33.2m.
The company added that its passenger numbers in the three months to the end of September rose 1.5pc, while car volumes in the period were 3pc higher.
Those figures came as the Central Statistics Office said last week that the number of people visiting Ireland during the summer was down 44,000 compared to summer 2011.
The biggest decline was in the number of visitors from the UK, which fell 6pc to 840,000.
ICG said that its roll-on/roll-off freight was down 4.5pc in the three months to the end of September, while container freight volumes were 5.9pc lower.
In the first nine months of the year, ICG's passenger numbers were up 1.2pc at 1.25m, while car numbers were 0.4pc higher at 285,900.
Eamon Rothwell, chief executive officer, Irish Ferries, on the company's Oscar Wilde in Dublin port. Mac Innes Photography