Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland co-ops hit hard in collapse of firm's shares

A host of top businessmen and major Northern Irish dairy co-ops are sitting on multi-million-euro losses because of the collapse in the share price of a leading Irish investment company.

Top golfer Padraig Harrington is the best-known investor who has seen the value of investments in One51 plc plummet by more than 80% in four years.

But co-ops in Northern Ireland have also been hard hit.

Topping the list is the West Ulster Farmers in Fermanagh, which has lost €727,406 (£448,126).

The Dungannon and District Co-op is down €650,945 (£574,685), and the Drumquin Co-op Livestock Mart in Tyrone, has seen its shares fall from €743,520 (£656,430) to €133,834 (£118,159).

The South Armagh Farming Enterprises in Newry has seen its shares fall from €565,560 (£499,321) to €101,801(£89,879), while the Northern Counties Co-op in Londonderry is nursing a €193,245 (£170,162) loss.

An examination of the One51's share register reveals that Ireland and Britain's biggest dairy co-ops have had more than €100m (£88m) wiped off the value of shares since they first traded in 2007.

The Kerry Group is shouldering the biggest investment losses, with the value of its shares down by more than €40m (£35m).

One51 was a spin-off from the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS) in 2006 and has invested in utility company National Toll Roads (NTR), Irish Continental Group and acquired other major assets, but their value has plummeted in recent years.

In 2007, many of the company's shareholders exchanged their IAWS shares for One51 shares, which were then valued at €5 (£4.40) each.

When the shares were then offered, many of the top business figures who are now nursing massive investment losses purchased them at €5 (£4.40) each.

However, those shares are valued at just 90 cents (79p) today.

According to the share register:

  • Beef baron Larry Goodman has seen almost €9m (£7.9m) wiped off the value of his stake.
  • Former Esat Telecom chief executive Barry Maloney's shares lost €1m in value.
  • Embattled property developer Bernard McNamara's shares are down €800,000 (£706,048).
  • Disgraced former Irish Nationwide Building Society boss Michael Fingleton's stake has fallen by €300,000 (£264,788).
  • Top golfer Padraig Harrington's shares are down €80,000 (£70,610) in value.

Factfile

Co-ops own the majority of the One51 investment group, accounting for about 52% of the total stock acquired when the company was formed following a restructuring of the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS) in 2006. Shareholders were given One51 shares, valued at €5 (£4.40) each, in exchange for their stock when they began trading on the 'grey' market in 2007.

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