Anglo eases regulator fears on planned Quinn takeover
Published 17/04/2010 | 05:00
ANGLO Irish Bank's plan to take over Quinn Insurance is understood to have progressed "considerably" in the last week.
The nationalised bank has successfully allayed some of the Financial Regulator's concerns about the mooted deal.
The news comes two days after Quinn Insurance was placed into permanent administration, putting 5,500 jobs across the Quinn Group in jeopardy.
Anglo's plan has been criticised in several quarters but is still seen as the best chance of saving the most jobs.
The Financial Regulator raised serious concerns about Anglo's initial pitch, and refused to give the bank more time to fine-tune the plans and potentially avert the insurer's full administration.
It is understood, however, that Anglo has continued to engage with the regulator on the proposed deal despite Quinn Insurance's descent into full administration.
The regulator is understood to now see Anglo's plans as "reasonable", after the bank provided significant additional detail.
Sean Quinn's decision to step back from the fray in favour of the Quinn Insurance board was also seen as "helpful" to Anglo.
Key Anglo staff have already met with Quinn Insurance's administrators, who will ultimately decide on the insurance company's successful suitor. Sources stress that as many as 30 other parties have also shown interest in the business.
Anglo is seen as having an advantage, however, as it has already engaged with the bondholders who have calls over €1.2bn of Quinn Insurance's assets. Anglo's plan could also see the wider Quinn Group's debt issues resolved, offering protection for group jobs.
The Quinn Group is also pursuing a broad refinancing deal under the guidance of restructuring expert Murdoch McKillop who has joined the group as an executive director. "The refinancing is progressing satisfactorily and lenders are constructive," a group spokesman said.
He added that the Quinn Group was also "focused on finding a solution" to the "current issues" affecting Quinn Insurance, and believed the "best solution" would be for the insurer to emerge as an independent company since that would protect the most jobs.
Re-opening Quinn Insurance's business in the UK and Northern Ireland is seen as key to protecting some 1,500 jobs in the immediate term, and Quinn Insurance workers yesterday met with regulator Matthew Elderfield to push their case.
Mr Elderfield has now received a full report from Quinn's administrators on the UK and Northern Ireland businesses and assured the workers he would make a decision on the matter "within days".
The Financial Regulator is planning to discuss the matter with the UK's Financial Services Authority next week, before issuing a decision that's likely to see Quinn allowed to sell some insurance lines in the UK and the North.
The UK boost came as Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night appealed for everyone involved in the Quinn Insurance administration to work closely together to save the maximum number of jobs possible.
"The administrator has made it clear that he wishes to proceed on the basis that it would be a going concern so I think it's time for everybody now to get behind the situation and try and make sure that the problems that are there are resolved," he added.
He also stressed that "many" of the wider Quinn Group businesses were "inherently profitable".