Little surprise in Eason’s unanimous vote to sell off buildings

Move will include sale and leaseback of flagship property on O’Connell Street

Eason on O’Connell Street, Dublin: due to be sold but leased back and to continue operating under Eason banner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Eason on O’Connell Street, Dublin: due to be sold but leased back and to continue operating under Eason banner. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

With a potential €60 million windfall in the offing, it was no surprise that Eason’s shareholders voted unanimously in favour of the demerger plan put to them at an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin yesterday.

In August The Irish Times revealed that Eason was planning to sell 13 properties in the Republic to generate a special dividend for its 220 shareholders.

This will include the sale of its flagship property on O’Connell Street in Dublin, which would be leased back from the new owner and would continue to trade under the Eason brand.

The plan was devised by Eason chairman David Dilger and managing director Liam Hanly as a way of releasing excess capital in the business.

Based on current valuations, Eason’s portfolio of freehold properties has been valued at €88 million-€96 million.

Eason plans to distribute €60 million of this among its shareholders. Some €17 million in cash and €2.4 million in Northern Ireland property assets would be used to capitalise its retail business, which will be transferred to a new entity, New Retail Holding Public Limited Company.

The balance of the funds raised would be used to pay associated costs, various taxes and inter-company loans. The demerged retail business would continue to be owned by the shareholders.

Eason now plans to seek High Court approval to allow for a voluntary liquidation of the existing entity, which will facilitate the payout to shareholders. The whole process is expected to conclude in 2020.

In the meantime, Eason shareholders will be hoping that the Irish property market doesn’t go south as their payout ultimately revolves around the prices achieved from selling their properties.

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