Friday 9 December 2016

Quinns to sell overseas assets over €2.8bn debt

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

Published 05/03/2011 | 05:00

Sean Quinn and his family have started the process of selling off overseas assets built up during the boom as they try to clear a huge debt burden worth €2.8bn.

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The family, which owns shares, property and other assets in their own right, have appointed agents to sell their 226-room IBIS Karlin hotel in the centre of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The family said all options were being considered, including disposal.

"This three-star, 226-room property is not core to its portfolio, which is largely made up of institutional class property. If disposed of, the proceeds will go towards the retirement of Quinn family debt,'' said a statement provided to the Irish Independent.

The sale is being handled by Cushman & Wakefield and the buyer will be expected to refurbish and modernise the property. The hotel market in the Czech Republic has not undergone the kind of downturn experienced here.

The €2.8bn debt is owed to Anglo Irish Bank and was built up after Sean Quinn and family made a series of disastrous bets on the direction of the Anglo share price.

The implications of this have rippled through the various Quinn-controlled companies and the outgoing Government has made it clear that it wanted all efforts made to clear the €2.8bn debt.

The Quinn interests are split into three blocs -- ownership of Quinn Insurance, ownership of Quinn Group and ownership of personal assets.

The Prague hotel is in this final group, and with Quinn Insurance and potentially the Quinn Group expected to pass out of the control of Sean Quinn and family, a major reversal in the number of assets owned by the family is set to take place.

It is not known if Anglo has instructed the family to sell the assets. The level of security it has over the family is unclear.

Last year, Anglo took huge writedowns in its own books to cover likely losses on the Quinn loans. This, however, does not stop the bank from pursuing family members for the full amount of the loans. Anglo has stayed in close contact with the Department of Finance on the issue of the Quinn debts.

The future sale of Quinn Insurance to either Anglo/Liberty Mutual or Zurich will need the sanction of the incoming Finance Minister.

Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield has outlined a range of concerns about the Anglo offer for the insurance company, but it has softened its objections over recent months.

Irish Independent

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