CRH shareholders approve listing switch from London to New York

The head of the world’s largest building materials group CRH said it can now become “a truly American company” after shareholders backed a plan to move its primary listing from London to New York.

CRH, which has a market capitalisation of £29bn and makes most of its profits in North America, deepened fears over the future of the London stock market when the group announced its intention in March.

At an extraordinary shareholder meeting near Dublin on Thursday, CRH secured the approval of more than 95 per cent of investors for a move analysts say will boost its valuation and which the company expects will help it win more business in the world’s largest economy.

“We see significant benefits by representing ourselves to be truly an American company — 75 per cent of our earnings are in the United States,” Albert Manifold, chief executive, said after the vote.

Manifold anticipated “significant benefit for those companies that provide jobs for Americans and also help the economy” under US president Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Chips and Science Act, which are designed to attract private sector investment.

“So we see ourselves positioning at last on a level playing field with our competitors in what is a very competitive environment,” he added.

The approval paves the way for the primary listing to switch to the New York New York Stock Exchange on September 25. Under the plan, the group will retain an ordinary listing in London but its shares will no longer trade in Dublin.

CRH follows in the footsteps of UK-based plumbing equipment supplier, Ferguson, which has already moved its listing to the US, and Flutter, the betting firm, whose shareholders approved a similar move in April. Japan’s SoftBank has also rejected a London listing for Cambridge-based chip designer Arm. 

The drift of companies away from London comes as the pipeline for initial public offerings has dried up this year. Manifold declined to comment on the future of the London or Dublin exchanges.

CRH, an acquisitive company that spent $3bn on mergers and acquisitions last year with a “good, strong pipeline ahead”, will find it easier to make deals in the US, Manifold said. 

“We didn’t have that advantage open to us because we were traded . . . in London rather than the US, and that, we feel, will help us grow that part of our business as well . . . It gives us more arrows in our quiver as we go to buy businesses,” he added.

Analysts say a Wall Street listing will bolster CRH’s valuation since the group trades at a discount to US peers, but some bankers have cautioned that the company could see a short-term hit as London-based index funds sell ahead of the switch to New York.

Jim Mintern, chief financial officer, declined to comment on that speculation but insisted “for the long-term shareholder value creation, you can see the level of support we have here from the shareholder base. They believe it’s the right thing”.

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