Monday 23 July 2018

Quinn could be back in business

Fallen tycoon's former CEO refuses to rule out future role if takeover bid succeeds

Sean Quinn
Sean Quinn
Quinn Snr, a former billionaire and now a discharged bankrupt, made a trimphant return to his former businesses last year when he accepted a €500,000 annual salary to act as a consultant to QIH, which owns the building and packaging division of his former empire.

RONaLD QUINLAN Special Correspondent

FORMER Quinn Group CEO Liam McCaffrey has said he can't rule out a dramatic return of Sean Quinn if the consortium he is heading up succeeds in its bid to acquire elements of the former billionaire's manufacturing business from its current owners, Aventas.

While Mr McCaffrey told the Sunday Independent he didn't see a role for Mr Quinn or the Quinn family "at the minute" with the Quinn Business Retention Company (QBRC), he refused to be drawn when asked if this would remain the case into the future.

"Everybody's trying to get me to answer that one way or another. I can't; I'm not a clairvoyant. I can tell you who's involved now in the management team and I can tell you who's putting up the money, but I can't be a clairvoyant," he said.

The news last week of Mr McCaffrey's bid, along with former Quinn group executives Dara O'Reilly and Kevin Lunny, for the Quinn packaging and construction industry supplies operations has unsurprisingly been well received in the Quinn heartland of Cavan and Fermanagh. The bid also enjoys the "moral support" of Sean Quinn, according to another of QBRC's founder members, Fine Gael councillor John McCartin.

The QBRC consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with the Aventas Manufacturing Group last Monday night following the submission of an indicative bid for the former Quinn businesses. A process of due diligence is now under way and is expected to take a number of months.

Mr McCaffrey rejected suggestions that he and his partners inadvertently stood to benefit from the absence of rival bidders for the former Quinn businesses owing to the intimidation campaign which had been waged by unknown elements against their current owners. Aventas has logged almost 70 incidents of arson, sabotage and intimidation, including death threats, against senior executives since Mr Quinn was ousted from his business empire in 2011. Last March, the chairman of the Belfast-based Lagan Group, Kevin Lagan, received a death threat on the day his wife died warning him that if his purchase of a Quinn company went ahead, the buyers "would not live to see the benefit of it".

Referring to the impact of the attacks on his group's own bid, Mr McCaffrey said: "We're on record as being unequivocal in condemning it. It has done nothing at all for us. It does nothing to help us attract capital and backing. We are paying a very full price, and believe you me, the bondholders wouldn't settle for anything less than a full price."

Asked if he would accept the price being offered for the Quinn businesses would be higher if there were rival bidders, he added: "I don't think so. Our bid is absolutely in line with market multiples. If there's any advantage we have, it's that the majority of us were 20 odd years in the Quinn business and we have a lot of relationships and customer support that we bring to the business."

The QBRC chief expressed his hope that the campaign of intimidation would end in the event he and his partners managed to secure the former Quinn manufacturing arms.

He said: "We'd be hopeful. Not only do we have the moral support of Sean Quinn and his family, we also have the support of the local community and the vast, vast majority of the staff. It's a relatively small area that's hugely proud of what's been achieved up here over the years and hopefully we can harness all that energy in a very positive way."

Sunday Independent

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