Building firms' merger plan fails
A business deal between two of Northern Ireland's biggest building firms will not go ahead, it has been confirmed.
The announcement comes just weeks after a bullet was sent to the head of Lagan Cement over the proposed merger with a company formerly owned by bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn.
In a statement, a spokesman for Lagan Cement Group said: "In late December of last year, Lagan Cement Group Ltd and Quinn Building Products Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of a joint venture involving certain of their cement and building product businesses.
"Discussions have now concluded and both companies have decided not to progress further with the proposed joint venture."
In January a rifle bullet was posted to Kevin Lagan, chief executive of Lagan Cement, at his Belfast headquarters. The package was accompanied by a handwritten note that referred to the possible deal.
The note read: "Quinn ... is this what you want?"
At the time, Mr Lagan described the threat as a crude tactic but said he would not be intimidated. He said: "We will not be swayed from our determination to complete our discussions successfully."
Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers also warned that threats to senior business figures were harmful to the economy and the PSNI were called to investigate. No arrests have been made to date, and the PSNI said an investigation is ongoing.
The Quinn Group, which was previously owned by Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn, was taken over by a consortium of banks in April 2011. There have been a number of attacks on Quinn Group property since new management took over the company in 2012.
The memorandum of understanding with Quinn Building Products looked at the possibility of combining cement and building products businesses based in Ballyconnell, Derrylin, Kinnegad, Belfast, Cork and Benelux. Both firms employ about 570 people and had they teamed up would have become the second-largest cement supplier in Ireland.