Monday 14 October 2019

Gallagher family gets €17m Abbey windfall

Abbey completed 75 home sales in Ireland in its last financial year. Stock image
Abbey completed 75 home sales in Ireland in its last financial year. Stock image
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The family behind Dublin- listed home builder Abbey is in line for a windfall of more than €17m in the New Year after the company announced a special dividend for shareholders.

More than 81pc of Abbey is owned by the extended Gallagher family, including executive chairman Charles Gallagher, which represents almost 17.5m shares in the group. Almost 10pc is owned by Fidelity.

The 81pc stake is held via UK firm Gallagher Holdings. Its latest accounts show that it had shareholder funds of £81.1m (€91m) at the end of April 2017. Its assets include shares in companies including Abbey, and also investment properties.

Abbey said that the board had carefully reviewed the current financial position of the group, together with likely future commitments, in making a decision to pay a special dividend. It will pay an additional 9c per share interim dividend.

According to its interim results released yesterday, Abbey had total equity of €356.1m at the end of October, including cash and cash equivalents of €93.3m.

The special dividend will be paid on the last day of January to shareholders on the register on January 4.

Abbey said its pre-tax profits in the six months to the end of October were flat at €23.9m. Revenue for the period rose 22.3pc to €110.6m.

The company completed 277 sales in the period, 239 of them in the UK, 19 in Ireland and 19 in Czechia.

It confirmed that margins have fallen in line with previous guidance, and that production continues to be hit by tight labour and materials markets. "Costs are rising," it noted, adding that efforts continue to expand its Irish business.

It said that development work will soon be under way at five sites in Ireland, with an additional four schemes winding their way through the planning process.

Abbey completed 75 home sales in Ireland in its last financial year and has a land bank in Ireland that could potentially deliver as many as 700 units.

It said that while its UK forward sales position gives it confidence that it will achieve a "reasonable result" for the full financial year, "the continuing external conditions are a cause for concern".

"The group will continue to progress all its activities, but intends to be cautious about new investments in the months ahead," it added.

Speaking after the company's annual general meeting in Dublin in October, Mr Gallagher described Brexit as a "national act of self-harm" and said the UK would be like a Cuba on the edge of Europe.

Mr Gallagher said he voted Conservative in the last election and will again in the next, but remains a staunch Remainer.

Irish Independent

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