Farmers who put IR£50 into investment group 50 years ago will each get back almost €16,000

Value of share buyback scheme at Farmer Business Developments more than doubles to €4.4m

Farmer Business Developments, which owns a 24 per cent stake in FBD Insurance as well as hotels in Ireland and Spain, has more than doubled to €4.4 million the value of a share buyback scheme aimed at buying out farmers who each chipped in typically IR£50 (€63) to set up the group in the 1960s.

Farmers who invested the typical £50 back in the 1960s are now in line to have their shares bought out for €15,864. Factoring in the roughly €16,920 of dividends they would have received over that time, the company says the original £50 will have yielded a total of €32,785 for those individuals who stumped up more than five decades ago.

The share buyback fund was agreed at an agm of the company in June and was originally capped at €2 million, with Farmer Business Developments proposing to pay €1.53 per share. The scheme was inundated with interest from farmers looking to cash in, however, and was oversubscribed by almost 200 per cent with investors looking to sell back about €5.8 million worth of shares.

Padraig Walshe, the chairman of the company and also a past president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, said a decision was taken to expand the fund to “meet the expectations of as many shareholders as possible”.

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In total, 490 farmer shareholders are set to benefit from the scheme, which includes an individual payout cap in line with what the typical original £50 investment would be worth today. Of the 490, 421 will have all of their shares bought out, while a further 69 who own more than the cap will have their shares bought back, up to the limit.

“These shareholders were mainly farmers canvassed by the [National Farmers’ Association, the predecessor of the IFA] over 50 years ago whose investment established the FBD group of companies, which has been so successful over the intervening decades,” said Mr Walshe.

Farmer Business Developments is the largest shareholder in the listed FBD Insurance group. It also owns Killashee Hotel in Kildare, Faithlegg Hotel in Waterford, the Heritage hotel in Laois, Castleknock Hotel in Dublin and the Sunset Beach Club and La Cala Resort in Spain. It made a profit of €11.6 million last year.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column