Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group (ICG) has postponed its annual general meeting, which was due to take place on May 12th, to an unspecified later date in order to protect the health of shareholders and staff as coronavirus continues to spread at pace in Ireland and globally.
That means that a vote on the company’s final dividend for 2019 of 8.99 cent per share, amounting to almost €17 million in total, will also be deferred.
"This decision has been taken in light of the current and developing situation surrounding Covid-19, recommendations from public authorities, and consideration of the health and safety of shareholders, attendees and staff," said the company, led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell.
A number of publicly listed companies globally have also postponed annual general meetings in the past week, with many also electing to pull planned dividend payments to preserve cash.
While Irish Ferries has continued to operate schedules between Ireland and the UK and France, its shares have plunged in recent weeks on concerns about passenger demand.
Maintaining services “ensures that those who need to travel for repatriation, for essential work, or to join their loved ones can still access vital transport links whilst maintaining social distancing on board,” according to a statement on Irish Ferries’ website.
“These services also play a critical role in the supply chain, ensuring our supermarket shelves remain stocked and important pharmaceutical and medical supplies are shipped.”
The company has increased the frequency of onboard cleaning routines, making hand sanitiser dispensers available, and has closed bars, onboard cinemas and its Club Class lounge services to facilitate social distancing.
The company has also given customers who don’t want to travel at this time the option to amend their bookings free of charge to travel at any other time up until December 18th, or cancel their booking, subject to a fee.
Analysts have said that while Covid-19 is a concern, ICG will benefit from a slump in fuel costs in recent times as well as continued strength in its freight business.