CRH apologises to shareholders hit by dividend issues since US move

Shares in the company have jumped by more than 40% since they began trading in New York last year, giving a market value of just under €50bn

CRH apologised at its annual general meeting on Thursday for issues with the management of its share register in the US after it moved its main listing to New York last year.

It resulted in a “small number” of investors being affected by US tax deductions on dividends and receipt of payments in dollars.

Group chairman Richie Boucher said the building materials giant was aware of “issues and frustration” felt by certain shareholders. He said CRH has had “an extremely active engagement” with its US share registrar, Computershare, and that it continues to challenge the firm to resolve issues for affected investors.

“We are very disappointed to hear your frustration. We are very sorry this has happened,” Mr Boucher, a former chief executive of Bank of Ireland, told one of a number of small investors who vented their disappointment at the agm.


Computershare said in December, when the issue emerged with the first dividend payment after CRH transferred its main listing to New York in September, that some of the issues resulted from “errors” in paperwork of shareholders. However, it conceded that in other cases “an administrative error” had occurred when tax was incorrectly deducted.

Speaking after the agm, CRH chief executive Albert Manifold said that for the “vast majority of shareholders everything went through smoothly”.

“Regrettably there were a small number of shareholders who had difficulties and problems and, as the chairman said, we’re sorry about that,” he said. “We’ve tried to put in place over the last number of weeks or months support to help those people, both in our corporate office here in Dublin and also with Computershare. We are working through it as best we can to resolve the issues.”

CRH decided last year to move its main stock market quotation from London to Wall Street and drop its Irish listing as the company seeks to position itself to secure more large infrastructure investment projects in the US, by far its largest market, and join key US equity indices. The S&P 500 index is the most widely followed index by investors globally and is being actively targeted by CRH.

“We would hope over the next 12 to 18 months to see that play out,” said chief financial officer Jim Mintern.

Shares in CRH have jumped by more than 40 per cent since they started trading in New York last September, giving the group a market value of $53.3 billion (€49.8bn), even after pulling back from their highs in the past month amid wider concerns about when the US Federal Reserve will start to cut interest rates.

Mr Manifold declined to comment on the company’s current trading ahead of the release of its first quarter results on May 10th.

The group revealed in late February that its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) rose 15 per cent last year to $6.2 billion. It forecast that its earnings should grow between 5.6 per cent and 10.5 per cent this year to between $6.55 billion and $6.85 billion.

CRH also faced questions during the agm on the company’s weak cement joint venture in the Philippines, which has been the subject of a number of asset writedowns since it was acquired in 2015 under the €6.5 billion takeover of an international portfolio of assets from Lafarge and Holcim as the two European companies sought to win regulatory approval for their own merger.

“This is one of the acquisitions, for a variety of reasons, that has not worked out in a way we have hoped,” said Mr Boucher, adding that the company is working hard with its partners in the business and will “look at the options that are available to us in the longer-term”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times