Friday 23 August 2019

C&C to shift stock listing to London 'where the market is'

Bulmers cider
Bulmers cider

Shawn Pogatchnik

Irish drinks maker and distributor C&C is shifting its stock market listing from Ireland to London, to address Brexit concerns and to trade where the vast majority of its investors are, chief executive Stephen Glancey told the Irish Independent yesterday.

He said the UK will remain the Irish company’s main market regardless of Brexit.

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C&C, which makes Bulmers and Magners ciders, and Five Lamps and Tennent’s beers, told shareholders at its annual general meeting in Dublin that the company is more focused than ever on growing opportunities in the UK, not continental Europe, the US or China.

In a trading update yesterday, C&C announced plans to cancel its Dublin listing so that it will be included in the more liquid FTSE UK Index series in London.

Mr Glancey said: “We don’t have a lot of European shareholders and the biggest proportion of our shareholders are in the UK. All the stuff with Brexit impacts them. There’s a bit in this [listing move] of making sure that we’re covering options when Brexit happens. But, equally, the liquidity flow in that market is much deeper. We’ll attract new shareholders.”

The primary listing switch to London also reflects C&C’s increasing dependence on sales in the UK, which generated €1.3bn of last year’s total revenues of more than €1.5bn. The UK share of sales was boosted by last year’s acquisitions of Bristol-based drinks distributor Matthew Clark and wine and spirits specialist Bibendum, which supplies more than 5,000 restaurants and hotels across London.

“The UK is where the market is,” Mr Glancey said.

However, he said C&C will remain an Irish company.

“We’re not moving our domicile or headquarters,” he said. “We’ll still pay tax in Ireland. We pay more tax in Ireland than some of the international guys here that compete with us. We’re an Irish company. We’re just moving our listing to a much bigger market.”

While Brexit creates uncertainty for Irish exporters, it would be unwise to pull back from the UK, he said.

“Investors are cautious about the UK because of the uncertainty. But the UK remains, in terms of volume, the number-two market in Europe for alcohol. It’s an attractive market – it’s in growth,” Mr Glancey said.

C&C rushed to stockpile goods in March ahead of the UK’s planned EU exit, sending extra Magners from Clonmel to Glasgow – and suffered as a result, Mr Glancey said.

“Obviously, we didn’t need it,” he said. “It’s been an issue because people have been selling this stock into the market, so prices came down.”

He said C&C would not stockpile ahead of the new Brexit deadline of October 31, because drinks companies would increase their stocks in the run-up to Christmas anyway.

“We’re less panicked for October than we were in March,” he said.

Irish Independent

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