Thursday 22 March 2018

Hedge fund offers €80m for Quinn portfolio

Tom Lyons

A Swiss hedge fund has offered $100m (€80m) upfront to the liquidator of IBRC to buy out the international property portfolio formerly owned by the Quinn family in Russia, the Ukraine and India.

Dr Thomas Boer – a representative of the fund called Corestate Capital – however refused to disclose who was putting up the money to fund the approach.

"We are a private company and don't have to disclose that publicly," he said. Dr Boer said the fund was backed by "wealthy Western investors," and had nothing to do with either the Quinn family or various Russian/Ukrainian entities who claim to have taken control of the overseas assets.

Corestate Capital wrote to the special liquidator of IBRC on February 12 of this year to make its offer to pay $100m – "subject to satisfactory due diligence results".

The fund previously wrote to the then management of IBRC making a similar proposal to take on the assets including a skyscraper in Moscow, a Ukrainian shopping mall, and various DIY stores. This was also turned down.

IBRC instead formed a joint-venture with Russian oligarch-backed A1 to win back control of the properties. In the worst-case scenario agreed with A1, the taxpayer will get back $165m (€127m). This will rise to $280m (€216m) in a best-case scenario.

Dr Boer said KPMG had not responded to his letter and he was "annoyed" by this. He said Corestate had "no inside track," to help them recover the assets but he insisted his fund would be capable of winning them back – even though IBRC working with Kroll, KPMG and others has been unable to do so.

In a further twist, Dr Boer – a former Swiss ambassador to Germany – said he did not know how he had been featured in some press releases which used his name and also attacked the modus operandi used by A1 in commercial disputes. These reports were prepared by a Russian PR called Nikolai Obrezkov who said he worked for a Russian law firm.

"It is confidential," he said when asked to name his client.

Dr Boer's career includes leading a special Swiss taskforce to investigate the country's role in stashing Nazi loot.

He hit the headlines in 2001 when his then wife Shawne Fielding, a former beauty queen, appeared in a magazine posing in a mini-skirt carrying a pistol in the Swiss embassy in Berlin in a spread entitled, "Cowgirl from the Alps".

The move led to a minor diplomatic incident which was covered in newspapers across Europe.

Irish Independent

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