Shifting ownership of Irish banks
This post was written by Patrick Honohan
Given the current interest in ownership of the Irish banks, I thought readers might be interested to read about the size distribution of shareholders.
AIB provides the most interesting data, reported in their recently published Annual Report and relating to end-December 2008.
There have been some interesting shifts in the past year. First of all, shareholders in the Republic (including pension funds etc.) now hold 41 per cent of the shares, up from 37 per cent last year.
Second, in the face of dramatic declines in price and increase in volatility, the number of AIB shareholders has increased by over 10 per cent or 10,000 persons. Almost all of the increase relates to the Republic, and almost all hold less than 5000 shares. (Today, the shares closed at €0.81). This confirms what was known anecdotally, namely that lots of middle income people thought it worth taking a flutter on bank shares given the novelty that they were only worth cents. They have bought these shares from foreign institutions.
For, although there over 90,000 AIB shareholders in total, of whom 76,000 in the Republic, fewer than 5000 shareholders hold more than 10,000 shares, and just 384 hold more than 100,000 shares.
Bank of Ireland had about 80,000 shareholders when it last reported the number, about a year ago. (We’ll likely see a similar pattern to the changes when the March 2009 figures are published.)
A look at Irish Life and Permanent’s reports (giving shareholders at end March 2009) shows a similar, though smaller trend: they now have over 135,000 shareholders up about 1%. All but 10,000 of them have fewer than 1000 shares each, but most of the newcomers seem to have between 1000 and 10000).
Anglo Irish Bank had far fewer shareholders — fewer than 20,000; just over 100 of them held 85% of the total shares between them.