CRH gets wires crossed with dollar cheques to Irish shareholders

Errors in payment of first dividend cheque under New York Stock Exhcange listing only adds to frustration felt by many small shareholders

Looks like CRH/Computershare have made a dog’s dinner of the dividend payments. I got my cheque in the post this morning in US dollars and minus US tax despite having filled all the required documentation which was not easy and despite a duplicate of the first set of instructions.

Mr V.T.

I’d like to say this is surprising but it isn’t. You are not the only person who has been in touch since the dividend cheques started landing last week – the first since the building materials giant moved its primary stock market listing to New York and disappeared entirely from the Dublin market.

Computershare, which manages the CRH share register under its US listing, concedes that “a small number” of shareholders have been in touch following receipt of dividend cheques. However, they say this is only about the deduction of tax from the dividend, not the issue of payment in dollars.


And, for the most part, they seem to be blaming the shareholders.

“In some cases, an inaccurate tax deduction was made due to errors on the paperwork submitted by shareholders,” Computershare said in a statement. “Separately, we have identified a small number of instances where a tax deduction was applied incorrectly as a result of an administrative error on our part. We are sorry for this and will be issuing any required refunds as a priority.”

That does not directly address your case, of course, where you seem pretty sure that you had given Computerhsare all the necessary details when you registered with them after the move of CRH to the US to ensure you were paid without US tax deductions and in euro. However, you tell me in a subsequent note that you have been promised a call this week to address your position, and hopefully it will.

Interestingly, your impression from what they have said to you so far is that there has been a more significant level of complaints from investors.

To be clear, the inference from Computershare’s statement is that unless your case is one where they accept they have made an error, it will be up to the individual shareholder to claim a tax refund of any US taxes wrongly deducted from their dividend cheque directly from the US Inland Revenue Service.

If they have not already done so, it is also the responsibility of the shareholder to apply for payment of their dividend cheques in any currency other than euro, Computershare reminds me.

Shareholders need to register with Computershare’s international currency exchange (ICE) if they want their dividend in anything other that dollars (the option is not open to people holding their shares electronically, I gather). Instructions on how to do so can be found at If you are getting your dividend by cheque, Computershare will charge $5 each time for the privilege of getting you dividend in euro. Wire transfers – presumably for those having their dividends paid directly into their bank accounts – cost $10 a time.

Depending on your circumstances, you might find it cheaper to just lodge the dollar cheque in your Irish bank account and pay the local charge. You should cheque what your bank would charge to handle a dollar cheque, or a dollar online payment into your account.

Of course, Irish withholding tax of 25 per cent will be deducted from all dividends paid here, as has always been the case.

CRH, for its part, has been referring all my queries in relation to this and other similar shareholder issues to Computershare. It appears that it is the share registrar and not the company that handles any issue in relation to the registration of shareholders and the management of their shares, dividends etc, not just at CRH but at any listed business.

I would argue that the shareholders have invested in CRH and not in Computershare and the company might be better advised to be more proactive and engaging with its shareholders, many of whom are small investors quite clearly struggling with the transition of the company’s primary listing to New York.

And clearly, the confusion and complexities involved are not helped when the registrar itself makes errors in how dividends are paid.

But that’s clearly a matter for them. They wouldn’t be the first listed company to find it easier to deal with large professional shareholders and institutions.

Computershare says shareholders who have questions can contact them at 01 6968467. I am told that by choosing option ‘0′ from the menu, you will be transferred to a contact centre where “one of our colleagues will be happy to provide assistance and answer any questions”, which seems to point to real people rather than simply an automated services that shareholders have complained to me about.

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