Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Quinn sends out a ‘teaser’ report to woo bid hopefuls

Potential bidders for Quinn Insurance have been sent a so-called “teaser'' report about the company designed to attract their interest before the full sales process begins.

The seven-page document is not a full sales memorandum and doesn't contain the kind of sensitive information expected to be divulged later on.

Interested parties that get the teaser document must put forward a case as to why they should be allowed to progress to the next stage.

The document contains details on the past five years of Quinn trading, pointing out that it only moved into the red in the past two years.

It also includes details on market share in the Irish and UK insurance industries. The appointment and recent work done by the administrators Grant Thornton is also referred to.

The sale is being handled by Macquarie and, contrary to some media reports, only four or five bidders are expected to make it on to the final shortlist. Much of the early interest in the company has been described as highly speculative.

Anglo Irish Bank is also interested in taking over the insurance company, albeit with an insurance joint venture partner.

The full information memorandum will be issued on July 28 to those parties Macquarie are satisfied are genuine. The sale is being handled by Macquarie staff operating out of London.

Since taking over the company earlier this year, Grant Thornton has managed to move Quinn Insurance back toward profitability, at least on a week-by-week basis.

The UK business recently moved into profit on a week-by-week (or run-rate) basis for the first time this year.

On average, the company's UK motor insurance business has implemented price increases of 25%, helping the UK business to stage a recovery, even though the volume of business has dropped.

Quinn Insurance lost about €49m (£42m) in 2008 and is expected to register losses of about €50m (£43m) for 2009. The 2009 results were recently submitted to the Republic’s Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield.

However, improving the 2010 performance has been the key objective of the administration team, led by Michael McAteer and Paul McCann of Grant Thornton.

The problems earlier this year, when the company was placed in administration, are likely to prevent 2010 being profitable in its entirety, but the administrators are confident losses are now stopping and the changed performance will attract suitors to the company, which is still owned by Sean Quinn and his family.

The company will have to take a €10m (£8.5m) charge in 2010 to cover redundancy costs.

The firm is also likely to up its advertising spending and try to gain a stronger foothold in the Dublin insurance market, which is its weakness. Whoever buys the company will have to pump in capital to boost its solvency levels, as demanded by the regulator.

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