How has Bank of Ireland’s share swap affected my holding?

The good news is there is no question of your stake having been watered down

All the bank did was to issue you with one new share for every 30 you previously owned. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg

All the bank did was to issue you with one new share for every 30 you previously owned. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg

 

You wrote an article back in 2017 on the Bank of Ireland reverse split. I recently checked though all my share certificates and I hold about 15,000 Bank of Ireland shares (generally bought in 2010). How do I go about selling them and how do I know how many I actually hold, after the 2017 share swap?
Mr CO, email

Bank of Ireland reorganised its corporate structure in the first half of 2017. As part of this exercise, it consolidated its share register.

The good news for you is that this was not a rights issue or placement, so there is no question of your stake in the bank having been watered down. All the bank did was to issue you with one new share for every 30 you previously owned.

In your case, your 15,000 shares would have become 500 once the new shares started trading in July that year. Every other shareholder fared the same, so your 500 new shares accounted for the same portion of Bank of Ireland as your 15,000 old shares.

Essentially, the bank had too many shares in number and they were trading in pennies, which made any move in the share price look far more dramatic than it actually might have been. The bank said at the time that the changes would position its share price “in a range that is more appropriate to the size of the group” and may assist in reducing share price volatility.

In theory shares that had been trading at 24.6 cent at the close on July 7th, 2017, should now have been trading at about €7.38 on Monday, July 10th.

And that is what happened.

Since then, they have hit a high of about €8.15 but are now trading around the more modest €5.45 level.

How that compares with your purchase price depends on when exactly you acquired them but, if you bought in 2010, you’re still in the red.

How to sell them? You say you have a number of share certificates, so I presume you have a broker who can do the deal for you.

Given that these are paper certificates, you will almost certainly be shut out of the option to switch instead to one of the more modern – and cheaper – online brokerages. The cost differences between brokers can be substantial, so I’d suggest you consider whether it would make sense to hold your equity investments in electronic form, making them less subject to physical loss and giving you a wider range of trading options.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice

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