The 2023 Ireland Spencer Stuart Board Index examines the 20 largest companies, according to market capitalisation on the Euronext Dublin (the ISEQ 20).
Our start date for the year under review is 1 May 2022 and our cut-off date is 30 April 2023, although in practice the last working day of the month was 29 April 2023.
The composition of the ISEQ 20 has changed in the period being reviewed. Hibernia REIT delisted from the ISEQ 20 in June 2022 following its acquisition by the Canadian firm Brookfield Asset Management. Permanent TSB returned to the ISEQ 20 in September 2022 for the first time since 2010.
The purpose of the survey is to provide a comprehensive review of governance practices in these 20 companies at a given point, in order to identify significant trends.
Information has been compiled from publicly available sources. This report analyses board membership as it stood on 30 April 2023; remuneration information is taken from the 2022 annual report for each organisation.
We generally treat chairs, non-executive directors, and executives separately throughout the course of this study. We have tried to make it as clear as possible which of these groups we are analysing for any given topic.
In discussing CEOs, CFOs, and other executive directors, we are concerned only with those who sit on the board of their company.
Foreign directors are defined as being of a different nationality from the company on whose board they sit. First-time non-executive directors are defined as being in their first term or first three years as a non-executive director and not having held any other external non-executive role before joining the board.
All remuneration data is given in euro. We have analysed both the fees as they are stated in the annual report that would be earned by a non-executive who serves in the role for the full year, and the fees as they were actually paid out in the course of the year. This includes NEDs who joined the board or changed role partway through the year. The data being analysed is clearly stated in each case.
Our perspective: The Future of Euronext Dublin
It has been a difficult few years for the Irish Stock Exchange, Euronext Dublin. Since the first Ireland Spencer Stuart Board Index in 2020, we have seen a number of changes to its constituents. In 2022 Hibernia REIT delisted from Euronext Dublin, as a result of its acquisition by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management. In 2021 Aryzta and Applegreen delisted, as did Total Produce following its merger with Dole.
At the time of writing, Flutter Entertainment confirmed its intention to delist in 2024, seeking to move its second listing to the New York Stock Exchange (with its primary listing remaining on the London Stock Exchange). This would be the latest Irish giant to opt for the US, and follows CRH’s high profile exit earlier this year.
Smurfit Kappa has also signaled its intention to move its primary listing from London to New York. This would drop its Irish Stock Market quotation following its planned merger with US packaging leader WestRock. A similar trend, described as the “FTSE exodus”, is emerging in the UK, with a number of British companies moving their listings to the US.
As CRH was previously the largest constituent of Euronext Dublin, and with Flutter and Smurfit Kappa now representing a significant proportion (30%) of the stock exchange in market cap, this has understandably raised concerns about the future of the Irish Stock Exchange and the impact on the national economy.
The preference for the US Stock Exchange over Ireland is clearly one of scale, with greater trading volumes and increased earning potential for an organisation and its shareholders. Furthermore, there are also some other push factors at play with ISEQ 20 constituents citing higher stamp duty costs on shares in Ireland and regulatory complexities with dual listings as reasons for preferencing US over Irish listings. With organisations such as Glanbia and Kerry Group trading heavily in the US, it is possible that they too might examine the possibility of a US listing.
In the context of global economic uncertainty alongside a changing business environment, both Euronext Dublin and Irish policymakers are under pressure to ensure that domiciling equity in Ireland, rather than elsewhere, is an attractive and viable prospect. While there is concern around possible further exits, the performance of some of the larger constituents makes a convincing case for listing in Ireland.