Cowen tight-lipped on Anglo takeover
Published 09/04/2010 | 05:00
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen last night left the door open to channelling taxpayers' money to the embattled Quinn Group through state-owned Anglo Irish Bank.
The Department of Finance said EU permission would not be required if Anglo were to take control of Quinn, since the nationalised body is run as a commercial entity.
As the European Commission had already approved the Government's plans for Anglo, no further approval was required, said a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.
However, Mr Lenihan would have to give management at the bank permission to pump money into Quinn, meaning the Government has the final say over whether the bank can take over the group.
When asked if it was possible that taxpayers' money could be channelled through Anglo to Quinn, Mr Cowen said a "commercial solution" was needed to protect jobs. "Minister Lenihan has pointed out the need to see in what way a solution can be found that best protects the taxpayer's interest in this whole situation," Mr Cowen said.
The introduction of an insurance levy on some Quinn Insurance policyholders, which could be as much as 2pc, would also not require EU permission. Mr Lenihan last week said health and travel cover would be exempt from any levy.
The Department of Finance also ruled out the possibility of the State bypassing Anglo and giving money directly to Quinn, saying it cannot give bailouts to struggling businesses.
The Quinn Group disclosed earlier this week that the Quinn family owes Anglo €2.8bn, mostly due to losses on Anglo shares.
Senior Anglo management met Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield earlier this week to discuss the bank's plan to take over Sean Quinn's business and restructure the payment of the €2.8bn owed by the Quinn family.
The bank fears that full administration of Quinn Insurance could lead to a default on loans of €4bn.
Mr Cowen said "every person" involved had a role to play in ensuring that 5,500 jobs are not put at risk but stressed that the Financial Regulator's independence had to be respected.