Anglo denies Quinn's claims of a 'vendetta'
War of words erupts ahead of crucial talks with bondholders
Published 13/09/2011 | 05:00
ANGLO Irish Bank last night said it "strenuously objects" to claims by businessman Sean Quinn that the bank is pursuing a "vendetta" against his family and putting thousands of Quinn Group jobs in jeopardy.
The war of words comes ahead of fresh talks between Anglo and the Quinn Group bondholders today, as the bank battles to convince lenders to release the core manufacturing group from some of its loan obligations amid "challenging" trading.
Sources last night said that while there was a chance the negotiations could see Anglo having to relinquish some of its vetoes on areas like Quinn Group asset sales and redundancies, this issue had not yet been broached.
Anglo and the Quinns are also squaring off in a series of legal battles about the family's €500m international property portfolio this week, including a Cyprus hearing yesterday, where the judge refused the Quinns' efforts to have the matter put out by a month.
A separate Dublin hearing is due today to resolve whether Cyprus or Ireland has jurisdiction to rule on whether Anglo or the Quinns has the right to control and benefit from the international property assets.
Yesterday's statement from Mr Quinn marked one of the only times he has publicly commented on his battle with Anglo and came after reports last week that the Quinn Group was trying to restructure a debt package agreed in April after expected earnings fell.
"The 38 years of hard work to build the Quinn Group with the unending support of staff and the wider community has all but been destroyed by Anglo in less than five months," Mr Quinn said yesterday.
"It is absolutely apparent that Anglo's priority is to pursue a vendetta against me and my children -- while totally ignoring its obligations to the Irish taxpayer, the group and its employees."
"The reality now is that thousands of jobs are at risk."
Mr Quinn also accused Anglo of "misleading" Finance Minister Michael Noonan by telling him that bondholders to the Quinn Group would suffer write-offs as a result of the April restructuring deal.
In a statement, Anglo said it "strenuously objects" to Mr Quinn's assertions, and accused the businessman of attempting to "destabilise the workforce" and "distract attention from what needs to be done to implement the restructuring of the Quinn Group".
Anglo has "not mislead the minister or anyone else", the statement added.
While Quinn Group bonds have not been written down, the debts owed by the core manufacturing group have reduced from €1.28bn to €682m, after the balance was transferred to a "non-core" unit.
The non-core unit's ability to repay bondholders depends on the amount it can raise from selling off assets like hotels. More debt is likely to be transferred to the non-core unit as a result of the latest bondholder negotiations, relieving the burden on the Quinn Group.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment on the latest developments, as did the Quinn Group.
Last week Quinn Group boss Paul O'Brien said he did not see the bondholder negotiations "giving rise to major issues".