Monday 26 February 2018

Payout by Dublin Port increased to €16.5m after Exchequer pressure

Dublin Port said it remains committed to to investing in the facility's infrastructure
Dublin Port said it remains committed to to investing in the facility's infrastructure

John Mulligan

DUBLIN Port is to pay a special €10m dividend to the Exchequer on foot of a request from the Department of Transport last December when the ministry was held by Noel Dempsey.

The special payment is in addition to the €6.5m dividend that Dublin Port, which is a semi-state body, is paying in respect of its 2010 financial year, bringing the total to €16.5m.

The dividend transfers come after the previous Government started putting the squeeze on semi-state bodies to deliver increased payments as the country's finances worsened after 2007.

Last year, Dublin Port paid a €5.5m dividend to the Exchequer in respect of its 2009 financial year. However, that payment was below the €6.4m target that had been set previously by the port.

Dublin Port, which is headed by chief executive Eamonn O'Reilly, had, in 2008, projected total dividend payments of €32.6m between 2008 and 2012.

That included a forecast €6.4m in respect of 2010, which has been met; €6.7m in respect of 2011 to be paid in 2012; and a €7.1m dividend in respect of 2012 to be paid in 2013.

Dublin Port had earlier predicted in 2007, however, that it would be in a position to pay an €8.6m regular dividend in respect of 2011, and €7.8m in respect of 2010.

The Department of Transport wrote to all the semi-state ports in 2009.

"The Government decided to seek to increase the amount received by the State in the form of dividends from the State-owned commercial companies," it said in the letter. "The guideline figure is 30pc of after-tax profits."

Dublin Port has previously told the Department of Transport that it expects to hand over between 25pc and 27pc of its annual profits to the State in the form of dividends over the next few years.

The port has presented its annual report to new Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, and it will be made publicly available later in the year.

However, revenues are likely to have been in the region of €65m while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were €32m in 2009.

That reportedly rose in 2010, when freight volumes increased by 6.1pc to 28.1 million tonnes -- 9pc off the 2007 high of 30 million tonnes.

Chairwoman Lucy Gaffney said yesterday that the company remained committed to investing in infrastructure, while Mr Varadkar said that the port had delivered a "strong" financial performance in 2010.

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