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Mystery over 24pc stake in NCB

IT REMAINED unclear last night whether Sean Quinn's 24pc stake in stockbroking firm NCB has remained in the businessman's ownership, following yesterday's move by Anglo Irish Bank to take control of Quinn Group assets.

There was speculation last year that approaches had been made by potential buyers interested in Mr Quinn's stake, but NCB, which was founded in 1981, refused to comment.

Mr Quinn acquired a 24pc stake in NCB in 2003 through Quinn Financial Services. The 24pc stake was below the 25pc level that would have given Mr Quinn the ability to block certain resolutions.

Last night, a source said that even if the stake was put up for sale, any buyer would reasonably only expect to enter an agreement if the move had the backing of NCB's management. The management team at NCB, which is headed by Conor O'Kelly, led a €15m buyout of the business from Ulster Bank in 2003.

It was speculated that NCB management would be in a position to acquire the 24pc Quinn stake if it was formally put on the market, as the stockbroking firm has no debt and last year reported net assets of €38m.

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