Belfast Telegraph

Quinn return 'attracting clients'

The return of Ireland's one-time richest man to part of his old empire after bankruptcy has attracted dozens of big clients back to do business.

Entrepreneur Sean Quinn's three-year hiatus ended last month when he emerged as a consultant at the former headquarters of his manufacturing plants on the Irish border.

And the local businessmen and former directors in the defunct Quinn Group who back his quiet reappearance have claimed the prospect of the old boss walking the factory floor drove a string of deals in the last month.

Reluctant to give much away about his day-to-day role, senior figures in the Quinn Business Retention Corporation said they have an open door policy for the 67-year-old, and his connections.

John McCartin, one of three investors who last year secured 100 million euro to buy a string of former Quinn factories in the border region, said: "His presence alone is worth millions."

Mr McCartin, a steel manufacturer and councillor from Leitrim, befriended the former billionaire after he lost control of the group in 2011.

Among the factories in the buyout are operations in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh and Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, including cement, tarmac, roof tiles, blocks and packaging.

And since it went through last autumn, dozens of companies across Ireland and the UK have sought to do business with the Quinn name once again.

Mr McCartin claimed the spike in interest in the manufacturing business is "a lot in this line".

"A lot of customers returned to the business on foot of the news that Sean would have a presence there again, and he would have spoken to a lot of them," he said.

As part of the deal to officially exit bankruptcy today, Mr Quinn will pay 20,000 euro over the next two years. But the tab left for the Irish taxpayer to pick up from his doomed stock market gamble that Anglo Irish Bank would survive the 2008 financial crash is about 2.5 billion euro.

There is also the not insignificant levy on insurance products as a result of the bailout of the former cash-cow of the empire, Quinn Insurance.

Those close to Quinn stressed that January 16 2015 is not being marked by him or his family as a triumphant red letter day.

They say his focus is on the looming courtroom battle with the state over his and his family's mammoth old Anglo debts, chased by lawyers for the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

"I hope that Sean Quinn's role in society increases but his role in public decreases," Mr McCartin said.

"When Sean is at his best and making progress nobody notices and when he is in bother everybody talks about him."

Mr Quinn has told associates that he will not do any interviews, without exception, until his legal fight against the state over debts from his Anglo stock gamble ends.

The Quinn glass business was sold to Spanish group Vidrala this week for 400 million euro but with the QBRC investment team confident that within five years they can buy out their American backers' stakes in the manufacturing divisions, they are also eyeing up a deal for a share of the glass enterprise.

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