Eason shareholders give green light for €20m payout

Some 230 investors in retailer will receive €1 a share under distribution of funds

Shareholders in Irish books and stationery retailer Eason have approved a €20 million payout from the proceeds of the sale of a number of properties since late 2018.

It is understood that none of the 230 shareholders in Eason Holdings plc voted against the proposal at an extraordinary general meeting held virtually on Thursday.

Last month, Eason chairman David Dilger outlined to shareholders plans for a voluntary liquidation of Eason Holdings plc (EHplc), the entity that holds its property assets. This move is to allow for a distribution of the cash in a tax efficient manner.

Shareholders will receive €1 a share, with David O'Connor of BDO lined up to act as liquidator to EHplc.

According to Eason Holdings' latest accounts, Mr Dilger and Eason managing director Liam Hanly stand to receive €5,000 each from the payout while Northern Ireland-based director Andrew Walmsley will be paid €864,080.

Pandemic impact

Eason shareholders had originally expected to share in a €60 million distribution but the sale of three properties – including its flagship store on O’Connell Street in Dublin – has been delayed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

The three properties have been moved into a new EHplc subsidiary company called Burwal Trident Limited (BTL), which will hold the assets. Mr Dilger said this would allow the company to continue the "property disposal process unhindered" in due course.

The property disposals were part of a wider restructuring of the Eason group initiated in 2018. This involved the retail and property arms of the company being placed into separate legal entities in March 2019, and the retail arm receiving a substantial capital injection.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times