Monday 21 August 2017

Quinn faces loss of his empire as deal falters

Regulator expected to give explosive new evidence today

Emmet Oliver

THE founder of the Quinn Group was in danger early today of losing his grip on his empire as hopes of a takeover plan by Anglo Irish Bank were fading.

A takeover of the wider Quinn Group offered founder Sean Quinn the possibility of a future role of some kind in the companies, but the Anglo plan still faced many hurdles, sources indicated last night.

Instead, Mr Quinn and his family are facing an application today from Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield to put the entire insurance arm in permanent administration.

The regulator is also expected to provide potentially explosive new evidence about how Quinn Insurance has been managed over recent years.

The regulator still has serious issues with Mr Quinn and his family retaining any role in the wider Quinn Group. While discussions will continue with Anglo over a takeover of the group, the proposal from the bank faces more hurdles than other bids from big international insurance groupings, sources indicated.

The regulator has decided that talks can continue with Anglo, but also the other groups, even if Quinn Insurance goes into permanent administration. So far the courts have only appointed provisional administrators.

A total break-up of the Quinn Group and sales of its many assets, would definitely see an end to Mr Quinn's involvement in the wider group.

However, the Anglo proposal gives him and his family some chance of a future at the group.

Headquartered in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, the Quinn Group is one of Ireland's largest private companies and its assets would attract a series of suitors.

However, Anglo would have to take its place in the queue of creditors waiting for the proceeds of the assets sales.

The Government has decided not to get involved in the battle for control of the company and so far has backed the financial regulator.

The fate of Quinn Insurance, and ultimately of the Quinn Group generally, will now rest with Justice Mary Laffoy who is expected to hear submissions from all sides today in the High Court. While a full hearing is a possibility, an adjournment is also possible.

It is understood the regulator does not support giving Quinn and Anglo another 30 days to firm up their plan. The regulator is expected to say that such a delay would be bad for policyholders of Quinn Insurance.

Bidders

Instead the regulator believes that discussions with Anglo, or any other bidders, can easily be done even if Quinn Insurance is in permanent administration.

"The hurdles for the Anglo bid remain,'' said one source yesterday.

The Department of Finance is monitoring developments and may have an observer in court today.

While the Anglo plan is not dead and discussions continue, Mr Quinn and his allies hoped that the regulator might approve the plan this weekend and inform the courts today of this support. But while there was extensive contact between Anglo Irish Bank and the regulator yesterday, a whole host of problems still face the takeover plan.

The regulator is particularly concerned about what kind of expertise Anglo could call upon if it took over the insurance company.

If a trade buyer snapped up Quinn Insurance the expertise problem would be absent, a source pointed out.

Irish Independent

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