The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty in the economy and is leading to disruption to businesses and financial markets. Under these circumstances Triodos Bank has taken the decision to stop offering Depository Receipts and to stop accepting selling orders of Depository Receipts until there is more clarity on the effects the COVID-19 Pandemic has on Triodos Bank and its Depository Receipts.
This means that DR holders cannot sell their Depository Receipts and must hold them until we reopen the possibility to sell. Reopening will be possible when we expect a balanced inflow and outflow of Depository Receipts.
We would like to explain a bit more about the context of this decision. Triodos Bank Depository Receipts are not traded on the stock exchange and their value is therefore not the result of demand and supply. Our Depository Receipts derive their value from the calculated value of the bank’s net assets (all assets minus all liabilities). This approach avoids uncontrolled market volatility and speculation and makes the price of our Depository Receipts much more stable than the price of stocks listed on the stock exchange
Under normal market circumstances the buying and selling of Depository Receipts is largely in balance. Triodos Bank accommodates the trade by maintaining a limited internal market. This way, we facilitate Depository Receipt Holders who want to sell if there are not enough new buyers at the same time. Trend developments over the past week or so, have led to a decision to suspend the trade until there is more clarity about what effects the COVID-19 Pandemic has on the economy and on Triodos Bank and its Depository Receipts.
We also published our 2019 Full Year Results on 18 March 2020. These results were stable and in line with expectations. As you will see from the annual results, Triodos Bank is a resilient organisation with a strong capital base, healthy liquidity ratios and growth prospects in the real economy. Because we are strongly connected to the real economy and these entrepreneurs have a crucial part to play in the recovery while fulfilling their mission, we have a great responsibility in ensuring that the type of companies we finance can weather the storm.
With the publication of the Annual Results 2019, we also presented the dividend proposal. Our policy is to have a pay-out ratio of between 50% and 70%. We are proposing a dividend of EUR 1.35 per share. This means that the pay-out ratio (the percentage of total profit distributed as dividends) will be 50%.
Why have we taken that decision? On the one hand, we feel that we want our investors to share in the profits we have managed to achieve in 2019. On the other hand, we want to acknowledge that we are heading for unusual times. Paying a dividend at the lower end of the bandwidth shows that we recognise the challenges ahead of us but also that we are in good shape.
For 40 years, Triodos Bank has financed initiatives that make a positive contribution to society. Again in 2019 we were able to generate stable growth and supported the development of positive impact. Positive change is needed now, but certainly in the coming decade, beyond the current crisis.
The weeks and months ahead will not be easy, we are all working in challenging circumstances. But we are a strong community and can achieve amazing things. We have done it for 40 years, and we can do it now.