Saturday 18 November 2017

Tycoon admits firm is 'losing a fortune'

Insurer's revenue falls after administration move

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

SEAN Quinn has admitted his insurance company is "losing an absolute fortune" in administration, with revenue dropping by as much as 80pc as uncertainty scares away policyholders.

The comments came in a wide-ranging interview on Shannonside/Northern Sound radio station, where the Cavan tycoon also described the events of the last week as a "stain" on his character.

Quinn Insurance has been under the control of provisional administrators for the past 10 days after Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield expressed serious concerns about the way the company was being run.

The case for full administration, which is expected to be vociferously opposed by Mr Quinn, will be made in the High Court on Monday.

Mr Quinn said the provisional administration had already taken a hefty toll.

"It made about €20m in the month of March; in April, I don't know how much it's going to lose but it's going to lose an absolute fortune," he said.

"We'll be 75-80pc down on turnover. . . so of course it has to lose money."

The Cavanman, who built the insurance business up from scratch over the past 15 years, also insisted that Quinn Direct could never make money under administration.

"I can make money in the Quinn Group and my co-directors can make money in the Quinn Group, but an administrator will not make money in our group," he said.

"Ours is a local group; it's built up on personality, it's built up on no unions, on goodwill, a lot of friends . . . we've built up a culture . . . that I'm very proud of . . . we can make a success of the business."


Despite his staunch defence of Quinn Direct's ability to turn around its fortunes, Mr Quinn admitted the regulator was "technically right" in his view that the insurance firm didn't meet solvency requirements.

That solvency target was missed in part because of the billions of euro lost on Mr Quinn's stock-market gambles, most notably a disastrous stake-building in Anglo Irish Bank.

"We were too greedy," Mr Quinn admitted to the interviewer. "We shouldn't have bought the shares and we shouldn't have exposed the company."

Describing the events of the last week, the businessman -- revered in his native county -- said: "It'll certainly be a stain on my character. It's not something I'll forget in my lifetime."

Mr Quinn has slammed the regulator's decision as the "worst in Irish corporate history", but takes all the blame for his investment decisions.

"I wouldn't be blaming anybody only myself," he said. "I'm not saying I didn't take any advice, I'm saying it was my idea to buy the shares."

He insisted that the regulator "took the wrong decision" but admitted that he did not think the watchdog would "shift" ahead of Monday's court date.

Irish Independent

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