Panda Waste founder is building a 10% stake in public insurer FBD

An Eamon Waters-controlled Irish private equity group that sold its Panda Waste business for €1.4 billion last year has become the second-biggest shareholder in listed insurance group FBD.

The size of the stake and the speed at which it was built is sure to spark speculation about his ultimate strategy as an investor in the company.

Mr Waters’ Dublin based firm Sretaw Private Equity has grown rapidly. Regulatory filings on Friday show the proportion of FBD has now increased to just over 10 percent. It crossed the threshold on Wednesday of this week.

Just over a week ago, Sretaw held just over 6 percent of FBD holdings.

That means Sretaw spent millions of euros to buy shares in the insurance company in a matter of days.

It makes Sretaw the insurance company’s second-largest shareholder after Farmer Business Development, an agricultural company that owns FBD resorts and hotels and other investments, as well as a 24 percent interest in the insurance operation, FBD Holdings plc.

FBD Holdings has a market capitalization of just under €500m and is Ireland’s only listed insurance company.

Sretaw has only started building his stake in FBD in the last few months.

Investors are not required to publicly disclose their ownership interest in a public company until it exceeds 3 percent. After that, they must continually update the market with stock purchases or sales until ownership falls below 3 percent again.

Filing with the exchange shows that Sretaw – named after a racehorse owned by Mr Waters – first had a reportable interest in FBD in late July this year, when it reported owning just over 5 percent of the insurance group.

It increased ownership to just over 6 percent on Sept. 21, and spent millions more buying shares between then and now to increase ownership.

Mr Waters was not immediately available for comment.

He sold his Beauparc Utilities business, which Panda controls, to Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure Fund in 2021.

Sretaw’s website states, “With Eamon’s unique expertise, Sretaw now seeks to invest in well-managed companies with sound business models, robust business integrity and the ability to become the next leader in their industries.”

FBD shares were trading up 2.4 percent this morning at €10.25. They’re changing hands at about the same rate as earlier this year. The last time they cost over €10 each was at the end of 2018.

Highclere International Investors held a 5.4 percent stake in FBD late last year. By June, Highclere had reduced its stake to just over 2.5 percent.

Norway’s Protector Forsikring had 8.4 percent at the start of the year but now owns 9.9 percent. It briefly raised its stake to over 10 percent earlier this year.

FBD Holdings, of which Tomás O’Midheach is CEO, had a pre-tax profit of 110 million euros last year. This was a better performance than expectedrmance and even came after it reduced premiums for customers. The profit was more than 20 times higher than in 2020. The gross written premium amounted to 366.3 million euros last year and was thus 2.3 percent higher than in 2020. Panda Waste founder is building a 10% stake in public insurer FBD

Fry Electronics Team

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