Selling forgotten Vodafone shares

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

Vodafone shareholders are free to sell but, if their investment came through Telecom Éireann, they won’t be making a profit. Photograph: Justin TalliS/AFP/Getty Images

Vodafone shareholders are free to sell but, if their investment came through Telecom Éireann, they won’t be making a profit. Photograph: Justin TalliS/AFP/Getty Images

 

I recently realised I have 449 shares in Vodafone. I had forgotten I had them? Have I missed the boat regarding selling them at this time? Or is it possible I can still sell ?

Ms M. O’L., email

You’re far from the only person who has forgotten about their Vodafone shares ... or wished they could. These legacy shares, which date back to an original investment by you in Telecom Éireann back in 1999, have never really been in profit.

That doesn’t mean there’s any reason why you cannot sell them. You have certainly missed out on a couple of chances to sell at reduced broker fees, but there is nothing stopping you selling them through a stockbroker like any other share.

But what they’re worth really depends on how long you’ve forgotten them.

Back in 2014, Vodafone decided to get out of its US business – a joint venture with another telecoms group called Verizon. For Vodafone shareholders, that meant several things.

First up, they received a cash payment. They also received shares in Verizon. And, finally, there was a reorganisation of the Vodafone shares they originally held. For every 11 Vodafone shares originally held, investors now got six “new” Vodafone shares.

So, the question really is: how long have these shares been forgotten? If it dates back before 2014, then the 449 shares you think you own are actually 244 or 245 shares in today’s Vodafone. And you also probably have 11 Verizon shares that could be more trouble than they’re worth unless you’re familiar with US share filings.

If these are, in fact, 449 “new” shares, they are worth €1,186 at the company’s most recent trading price of £2.35 (€2.64). If you’ve missed some of the more recent developments in the company and your holding is actually 244 shares, your investment is worth €645 at current market prices.

It still doesn’t stop you selling but it is some way short of the €4.58 per chare you’d need to be seeing if you were to make a profit on that part of your original Telecom Éireann investment.

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

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