National Stud board members received €2.9m for stallion shares

THREE senior figures in the Irish National Stud received €2.9 million for their share-holding in a prized stallion in which the Government-owned company was the biggest shareholder.

Chairwoman Chryss O’Reilly, director Trevor Stewart and company secretary John McStay held shares, personally or through other parties, in the syndicate which owned and managed the record breaking stallion Invincible Spirit.

The shares were bought at various stages as the stallion’s value rocketed and before it attracted a multi-million euro cash injection in mid-2007.

The company’s policy is to encourage directors and those connected to the INS to do business with the company and invest in stallions it manages.

The Invincible Spirit syndicate was created in 2002 and is managed by a committee controlled by the INS – the largest shareholder. Ms O’Reilly, wife of Tony O’Reilly, sat on the three-person syndicate committee for the INS.

In 2007, an investment in the horse from Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum resulted in a windfall for the company and syndicate shareholders.

The three senior figures received €2.9m, on top of annual dividends generated through stallion fees and breeding rights with the horse.

The re-syndication strategy prevented the hostile takeover and kept Invincible Spirit in Ireland. It revalued the stallion at €43.5 million compared to approximately €1m in 2002.

Ms O’Reilly, Mr Stewart and Mr McStay received no favourable treatment and were entitled to the same deal as the other members.

In its annual report the INS said shareholders had been loyal by not cashing in on their investment to hostile bidders. And for this they got a significant return on their investment, the report said.

In a statement the INS said the actions of individual shareholders were not its responsibility and all relevant details were reported in its annual accounts.

“The Irish National Stud, as syndicate manager, canvassed the views of all of the shareholders. Some shareholders had no desire to sell whereas others reduced their stake in the stallion. It was eventually structured on the basis that each shareholder who wished to do so could sell 50% of their holding. The balance of the stake sold to Darley [the sheikh’s investment vehicle] came from the holding of INS,” it said.

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