Belfast Telegraph

Quinn ousted as bank seizes group

Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man, has been stripped of his mighty business empire in everything but name.

Anglo Irish Bank seized the tycoon's Quinn Group as it chases 5 billion euro of family and company debts caused mainly by catastrophic share deals.

The deal ensures the vast majority of the 4,200 jobs in the manufacturing and insurance wings are safe for at least five years.

But it leaves the former billionaire powerless in the multinational business he founded and facing the threat of bankruptcy if Anglo issues demands on all debts.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said protecting the Quinn Group companies was good news for workers.

"From an employment point of view it's a very good news story," he said. "From the Quinn family point of view... Sean Quinn himself made an enormous contribution to employment in the border counties and from a personal level one would have to feel very sorry for him."

In a move separate from the Anglo action, Quinn Insurance - the cash-cow of the group which employs about 1,000 people - looks set to be sold to the fifth-largest insurer in the US, Liberty Mutual.

Mr Quinn has been forced into corporate exile - the ultimate price to pay for a complex and secret share deal which left him holding a worthless 15% of now nationalised Anglo.

The Fermanagh tycoon, along with relatives, owes the bank 2.88 billion euro and the business group owes 1.2 billion euro.

Anglo chief executive Mike Aynsley suggested Mr Quinn had to be removed from the group or the bank risked allowing him to "milk" the business for funds to repay debts. "We actually saw (it) as quite a risk continuing to milk or dividend these companies heavily in an effort to pay back the Quinn family debt," Mr Aynsley said.

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