Wednesday 22 November 2017

Gallagher glad Abbey to keep listing

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

ABBEY executive chairman Charles Gallagher said he's happy the company will remain listed on the Stock Exchange after a mandatory offer for the firm that could have seen it taken private was launched during the summer.

UK-based Gallagher Holdings triggered a mandatory offer for homebuilder Abbey after it increased its shareholding to more than 50pc in August. It offered to buy out the company in a deal that valued it at about £114m (€142m).

But while some shareholders cashed in, others held out. That left Gallagher Holdings (GHL) owning just over 73pc of Abbey stock -- short of the 90pc or so it would have needed to compulsorily acquire the remainder.

GHL would also have required 75pc of individual shareholders to have sold their shares under the offer.

Detrimental

"Considering that we have a lot of shareholders holding one share, that's a very difficult high bar," said Mr Gallagher, who was speaking after Abbey's 75th AGM yesterday.

"There was never any intention . . . that that would happen," he added, saying that he was "not in the least bit disappointed" in the outcome.

Mr Gallagher is also a director of Gallagher Holdings. Abbey, which made a €12.1m pre-tax profit in its last financial year, has been listed since 1973.

"I think GHL were quite happy with the outcome. I think it's good for the company," he said. "There's no great drive to bring the company private."

Mr Gallagher said he did not think it was detrimental for a publicly listed company to have such a single large shareholder.

"I think you want to get as many companies as possible listed on the exchange," he said. "We should accept that there are different ownership structures and give people the opportunity to invest in them.

He said the notion that a listed company should have a particular management and ownership structure is "too prescriptive".

Mr Gallagher said Abbey remained on the hunt for development sites and had recently acquired one in Dublin, but he added that changes need to be made to planning guidelines.

"We look at a lot of sites and they have planning permissions that are non-implementable," he said.

"I think the economy would be recovering a little bit quicker if there was more flexibility."

Irish Independent

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