Saturday 29 April 2017

Future of Quinn Insurance remains unclear one year on

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

IT'S a year to the day since Quinn Insurance was dramatically forced into administration, but the insurer's future and the fate of 1,600 staff remains shrouded in uncertainty.

A plan by Anglo Irish Bank to take over the insurance giant in a joint bid with US insurer Liberty Mutual has been languishing with the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) for close to two months.

And the insurer's administrators were forced to effectively suspend the sales process in mid-February when they admitted that the general election threw some aspects of the sale into doubt.

In a statement last night, the joint administrators said the sale process was "progressing", adding that they were "working hard to obtain approval from the various stakeholders to bring things to a conclusion".

The outstanding issues largely concern Anglo's bid, which must be approved by the NTMA given Anglo's nationalised status.

It is understood that while the NTMA is positively disposed to Anglo's proposition, no formal approval has been given at this point.

The NTMA is believed to be still considering how Anglo can finance the money they will be putting up for the Quinn sale.

The total Anglo Liberty deal is believed to involve a €600m cash injection -- Anglo is expected to put up less than €400m.

Finance

It is unclear as to whether the bank can finance this from its own resources, or whether it will need further cash from the State.

The question is unlikely to be addressed until after the results of banking stress tests tomorrow, which will show how much cash the four "continuing" banks need.

The announcement may also contain some details of whether Anglo Irish Bank needs another €4bn to meet an "adverse" scenario detailed late last year.

Quinn's administrators last night said their "over-riding goal" had been "to put the company on a sound financial and commercial footing, both in the long and short term".

The insurance company has had more than 275,000 policy renewals since the administration began, something which has "pleased" administrators Michael McAteer and Paul McCann.

The duo also paid tribute to the "effort, work ethic, commitment and goodwill" of the insurer's staff and asked them for "further patience over the short term" to enable the successful conclusion of the sales process.

The family of Sean Quinn, who founded the insurance giant, initially vigorously opposed the administration and then tried to develop a joint bid to buy back the insurer along with Anglo.

The family have been unsuccessfully trying to revive this bid since Anglo decided to pursue an offer with Liberty Mutual back in December.

"The family remains convinced that their proposal is the most attractive from a financial perspective in relation to the State and also the most attractive for the retention of the maximum number of jobs," a spokesman said last night.

Irish Independent

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