Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Hopes for takeover of Quinn Group fade

The founder of the Quinn Group was in danger early today of losing his grip on his empire as hopes of a takeover plan by Anglo Irish Bank were fading last night.

A takeover of the wider Quinn Group offered founder Sean Quinn the possibility of a future role of some kind in the companies, but the Anglo plan still faced many hurdles, sources indicated last night.

Instead, Fermanagh man Quinn and his family are facing an application today from Irish Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield to put the entire insurance arm in permanent administration.

The regulator is also expected to provide potentially explosive new evidence about how Quinn Insurance has been managed over recent years.

The regulator still has serious issues with Sean Quinn and his family retaining any role in the wider Quinn Group.

While discussions will continue with Anglo over a takeover of the Quinn Group, the proposal from the bank faces more hurdles than other bids from big international insurance groupings, sources indicated. The regulator has decided that talks can continue with Anglo, but also the other groups, even if Quinn Insurance goes into permanent administration. So far the courts have only appointed provisional administrators.

A total break-up of the Quinn Group and sales of its many assets would definitely see an end to Mr Quinn's involvement in the wider group.

However, the Anglo proposal gives him and his family some chance of a future at the group.

Headquartered in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, the Quinn Group is one of Ireland's largest private companies and its assets would attract a series of suitors.

However, Anglo would have to take its place in the queue of creditors waiting for the proceeds of the assets sales. The Irish government has decided not to get involved in the battle for control of the company and so far have backed the financial regulator.

The fate of Quinn Insurance, and ultimately of the Quinn Group generally, will now rest with Justice Mary Laffoy who is expected to hear submissions from all sides today in the High Court in the Republic. While a full hearing is a possibility, an adjournment is also possible.

It is understood the regulator does not support giving Quinn and Anglo another 30 days to firm up their plan. The regulator is expected to say that such a delay would be bad for policyholders of Quinn Insurance.

Instead the regulator believes that discussions with Anglo, or any other bidders, can easily be done even if Quinn Insurance is in permanent administration.

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