€60m for Eason shareholders from property sale

The book and stationery retailer, Eason, is seeking court approval for a demerger of companies within the group which could lead to some €60m being available for distribution to shareholders from sales from its property portfolio.

Eason Holdings plc wants the Commercial Court to confirm a decision, following an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last September, to reduce the company's share premium account by €47.2million and reduce its capital by the cancellation of 20 million ordinary shares valued at €15m in total.

It is part of a reorganisation of the company which has a property portfolio valued at between €88m and €96m

Eason Holdings director, Liam Hanly, says in an affidavit the capital share reductions were unanimously passed at last September's EGM.

He says in 2013, the Eason Group commenced a process of separating the property and retail trading arms of Eason and Son Ltd. This followed a decision that existing group structures were no longer optimal.

It was decided to streamline the group with a view to facilitating property and/or trade disposals in the future.

The board is currently of the view that the company is over capitalised with the majority of realisable shareholder value reflected in the value of its property portfolio, he says.

It has therefore developed a decision framework whereby it is to realise as much value as possible by selling freehold properties within the group and deliver the majority of capital proceeds back to shareholders.

At the same time, it wants to create a viable appropriately capitalised and commercial independent trading company.

Following disposal of the property element, there is expected to be €60m in 2020 for distribution to shareholders, Mr Hanly says.

The share capital reduction application came before Mr Justice Robert Haughton yesterday (Mon) when he adjourned the matter for hearing next month.

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