THIS is the corporate troubleshooter hired to restructure the Quinn Group. He is paid €915 an hour — equivalent to about €7,000 for an eight-hour day, the Sunday Independent has learned.
This makes accountant and now director of the Quinn Group Murdoch McKillop the highest-paid consultant in Ireland, on a potential weekly wage of €36,000.
The bill is now being picked up by the Quinn Group — and by extension the taxpayer- owned Anglo Irish Bank, which is owed €2.88bn by Sean Quinn and his family. Last week, Anglo chairman Alan Dukes told an Oireachtas committee that the failed bank would end up costing the Irish taxpayer an estimated €25bn to clean up.
Anglo, which appointed a share receiver to the Quinn Group on April 14 to take control of the Quinn family’s equity interest in the Quinn Group, did not hire Mr McKillop. A former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Mr McKillop was actually appointed in 2010 at the behest of a number of other banks and institutions which agreed his fees at that time.
This newspaper has learned that the total bill for consultants, advisers and directors with the Quinn Group is now running at close to €1m a week. In a statement to the Sunday Independent, the Quinn Group said: “Such is the restructuring challenge facing the company that both it and its lenders have had to incur significant costs in relation to this complex work.
“The company's management and its advisers are working hard to complete the restructuring as quickly as possible and with a view to minimising these costs.” Mr McKillop, of the London- based consultancy Talbot Hughes McKillop, is considered to be a worldwide expert on corporate restructuring. He led many of the UK’s largest insolvency projects, including the truck company Leyland DAF.
He also hit the headlines when he was appointed joint administrator of the Maxwell private companies, which imploded following the death of publisher Robert Maxwell, owner of the Daily Mirror, who went overboard and drowned in unexplained circumstances from his luxury yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, in the early 1990s. The Sunday Independent has learned that Mr McKillop, an avid sailor, is on £795 per hour (€913) for his work with the Quinn Group. The fee was agreed in sterling because the company’s headquarters are in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.
His appointment followed representations made by the European and American lenders at the time when the company first got into difficulties. They believed that they needed a corporate heavy-hitter to carry out the restructuring of the company. Sean Quinn was still chairman of Quinn Group at that time. In a rare newspaper interview, Mr McKillop once described the qualities required by those charged with conducting successful insolvency projects.
“I see there being two qualities in particular which successful practitioners have: first, the ability to see through the haze and get down to the important matters; second, an unpanicable manner.
“You mustn't lose your head when things become a bit frantic. You've also got to be able to listen, make your own judgement and communicate that judgement to the client. Those are the key qualities.” Mr McKillop joined Arthur Andersen as a graduate recruit from Strathclyde University in Glasgow and stayed there until 2002, when he joined the high-level corporaterestructuring firm Talbot Hughes McKillop LLP.
Though now based in London, Mr McKillop retains his links to his native Scotland through his love of sailing. He is a member of the Royal Northern Yacht Club in Rhu.