Monday 26 February 2018

IFG shares soar 21pc as speculation mounts over takeover bid

John Mulligan

Shares in Irish financial services firm IFG soared as much as 21pc yesterday after the company said it had received an unsolicited takeover approach.

The buying scramble pushed the company's market valuation to a high of €226m during the day as investors bet that any firm approach would have to place a significant premium on the closing price of IFG shares on Tuesday.

IFG didn't name the potential suitor but stressed that the approach might not necessarily lead to an offer to buy the company.

The pensions and investment advisory firm added that shareholders should note that the approach was "preliminary in nature and is the subject of a number of conditions".

IFG generated 60pc of its profits in the UK last year, mainly from the administration of pensions there called Sipps (self-invested personal pensions) that are backed by the government. In 2009 IFG agreed to pay nearly €43m to buy James Hay, the UK's largest provider of such pensions.


Last year IFG's revenues climbed 29pc to €120.6m, although pre-tax profit more than halved to €3.1m -- primarily due to €9.4m in restructuring costs incurred in relation to the deal to buy Hay. Its Irish unit posted a loss of €1.4m.

Chief executive Mark Bourke said in March that IFG was seeking additional expansion opportunities in the UK, particularly potential acquisitions of pension managers that are under pressure to boost their capital. IFG's other international operations -- mainly Cyprus-based corporate and trustee services -- provide the remainder of its profits outside the UK.

Shares in IFG closed up 16.6pc at €1.75.

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