Sunday 25 June 2017

Judge gives green light for the sale of Quinn to Liberty and Anglo

courts

Louise Hogan and Laura Noonan

ANGLO Irish Bank and Liberty Mutual will take ownership of Quinn Insurance Limited at the end of the month after the High Court yesterday cleared the way for the embattled insurer's sale.

Sources last night confirmed that the new company would be seeking a solvency certificate from the Central Bank over the coming days, and would unveil new management once that had been obtained.

The executive team is expected to be drawn solely from the "family" of US insurance giant Liberty Mutual and is understood to include some very senior members of the organisation.

The board will be made up of Liberty Mutual nominees, independent directors and at least one executive from Anglo Irish Bank who will look after the bank's 49pc interest in the new venture.

The new brand name -- most likely Liberty Mutual Direct -- may be unveiled on the same day as the management team.

The early months of the new insurer will be closely watched by other industry players, who will be keen to see whether Liberty Mutual Direct keeps up the same level of advertising as Quinn Insurance and adopts a similar pricing policy.

Clearing the way for the sale yesterday, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said he had decided to give his decision immediately because of the tight timeframe around the deal, the commercial sensitivities involved and the parties' need for certainty.

A full judgment explaining the judge's decision will be given next week.

The deal, which will see Irish policyholders asked to stump up €738m to fund claims not being taken over by Anglo/Liberty, was objected to by Concerned Irish Citizens and Concerned Irish Businesses.

Both groups claimed the deal involved an unfair distribution of public resources and argued the High Court had not been given enough information about the deal to make an informed decision.

They also indicated they had been supportive of alternative proposals for the insurer advanced by Quinn interests.

Pauline Walley, counsel for CIC, said her clients were very sincere people who had genuine concerns for their communities and were particularly concerned that €761m of Quinn Insurance's cash assets were being transferred to the purchaser.

Denis McDonald, counsel for the insurer's administrators, said no alternative to the sale had been advanced by the objectors and it was "fanciful" to suggest another buyer prepared to offer a better deal could be found, he added.

The court-appointed joint administrators had told the court the alternative to the proposed sale was liquidation of the insurer with a deficit of €1,300m and 1,600 job losses.

A solicitor representing the Quinn Group told the court yesterday the group wished to make clear it was fully supportive of the sale proposals of the administrators and was not involved in the alternative proposals.

Irish Independent

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