Thursday 23 November 2017

Regulator expected to rule on Quinn ban

Joe Brennan

THE Financial Regulator is expected to decide as early as tomorrow whether to lift a ban on Quinn Insurance writing new business, on a restricted basis, in Britain and Ireland.

Employees at the embattled insurer, where permanent administrators were appointed last week, have claimed Quinn Insurance has been losing up to €1.5m a day since the direction was made almost three weeks ago.

The regulator has also been maintaining close contact with its UK counterpart, the Financial Services Authority, on the issue. It comes as an investigation team in the watchdog continues to probe whether there were instances of improper conduct that may have contributed to the insurance firm's solvency issues. It is understood the team, including legal experts, are trawling through files but contrary to some reports has not yet conducted interviews.

Meanwhile, Anglo Irish Bank is believed to be drawing up a list of experts -- including international names -- that could manage parts of the Quinn Group if it takes control of the cement-to-insurance conglomerate. This comes as the bank has made progress in addressing some of the financial watchdog's key concerns about Anglo taking over the embattled insurance part of the business -- and having it managed on a arms-length basis.

The bank is among up to 30 parties that have expressed an interest in taking over Quinn Insurance to its administrators, Paul McCann and Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton, who were appointed last week.

However, there was a subtle change last week in the attitude of top executives at the broader Quinn Group about having Anglo take over the business. Whereas previously they had pushed an Anglo takeover as the only game around, Quinn's managers are now talking of seeing "merit" in the bank's proposals.


The change in tone followed Quinn Group's hiring of top restructuring expert, Murdoch McKillop of London-based Talbot Hughes McKillop, to help the company "work through (its) current issues".

AXA, Allianz and FBD are among those believed to have an interest in parts of the insurance business. It was reported over the weekend that DB Private Equity, part of Deutsche Bank, is among three private equity houses in talks with Quinn. Quinn Insurance needs a €150m capital injection to deal with its solvency issues.

It would also need to refinance €600m of bonds. These bondholders currently have guarantees -- the effect of which was to reduce the value of the insurer's assets for solvency purposes by €448m, according to the regulator.

Irish Independent

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