Irish building materials giant CRH is a step closer to becoming a “truly American company” after shareholders voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to switch its primary listing to New York from London.
Investors holding 96 per cent of the company backed the basic resolution needed to change the company’s listing at an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin. Similar majorities voted for five subsequent motions also required to facilitate the change.
After the vote, Albert Manifold, chief executive, said CRH believed that “representing ourselves as a truly American company” would benefit the business significantly.
He pointed out 75 per cent of the cement, concrete and building materials manufacturer’s earnings came from the US. “And a very significant portion of our earnings are derived from American tax dollars,” Mr Manifold added.
“We see ourselves at last as positioning ourselves on a level playing field with our competitors over there in what is a very competitive environment.”
CRH hopes to cash in on US government spending plans to bolster the country’s infrastructure, while its chief executive indicated the listing move would open tax advantages in future deals where the company was buying other businesses.
The group spent more than $3 billion (€2.8 billion) on such deals in 2022. Mr Manifold noted it had a “good strong pipeline” of further transactions to follow those already completed this year.
He explained that not having the option of using US stock as payment for those transactions hindered its ability to do some deals.
Following the vote, the group must get High Court approval at a series of hearings in July before the move can go ahead. Pending that, CRH is due to list its shares on Wall Street on September 25th.
Jim Mintern, CRH’s group finance director, said the period between High Court approval in July and the listing date would give shareholders “who hold their shares in lots of different forms” time to decide on how best to organise their affairs.
At the meeting, individual shareholders, including former government minister Ned O’Keeffe, voiced concerns at various issues, such as how the group would manage the transfer of share certificates, which prove ownership.
Chairman Richie Boucher told the meeting that certificates would transfer automatically, and that in many instances shareholders need take no action.
Investors can choose the currency in which the group pays their dividends, although Mr Boucher noted that those who wanted to receive those payments direct to their banks would have to inform the registrar.
Both he and Mr Mintern maintained that the move would affect no investor’s rights.
Mr Manifold stressed that “every shareholder was important” irrespective of whether they were small individual investors. “Everyone of them today had valid concerns, I hope we addressed those concerns adequately,” he said after the meeting.
Responding to concerns that the group was too focused on the US, Mr Boucher stressed that the change in listing would not alter CRH’s “strong positions” on both sides of the Atlantic.
“We have a very strong European business and we continue to see opportunities for the European business,” he said.
“We believe the best long-term interest of our shareholders is to have a strong business on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Mr Boucher did not comment on the future of either the London Stock Exchange or the Irish market, which is now known as Euronext Dublin.