Belfast Telegraph

Anglo closes in on Quinn buy

Anglo Irish Bank is pressing ahead with its original plans to take over Quinn Insurance even though the future shape of Anglo itself has yet to be agreed with the Irish government.

The news comes as Anglo and four other bidders prepare to lodge second-round bids for Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL).

Quinn Insurance, which has offices in Cavan and Enniskillen, is owned by businessman Sean Quinn and was placed into administration by Ireland's High Court in Dublin in March.

Anglo is set to start talks with government officials this week to decide which parts of the toxic bank will merge with Irish Nationwide and which parts will stand separately.

Sources have acknowledged that the outcome of those talks could materially affect the way Anglo could pursue the €2.8bn (£2.4bn) it is owed by Sean Quinn and his family, who own QIL.

"It could change a lot of things around the approach to restructuring generally," one source said. "Anglo is still awaiting clarity; things are proceeding 'as was' for the time being."

Other lenders negotiating with Anglo on the resolution of Quinn's wider debt situation see Anglo's position as a "key uncertainty" in the proposals they have been given.

The current plans involve Anglo lodging a joint bid for QIL along with US insurer Liberty Mutual, which is also believed to be making a stand-alone bid.

The Anglo/Liberty bid may see the bank put as much as €600m (£500m) into QIL, with Liberty adding expertise that would make the deal more palatable to regulatory authorities.

The other QIL bidders are believed to include UK insurer Travelers, Swiss player Zurich and German firm Allianz, though none have publicly confirmed their interest.

Meanwhile, Anglo chief executive Mike Aynsley and Irish Nationwide chief Gerry McGinn will meet the Irish government to explore options for the two institutions later this week.

The Government has asked the lenders to draw up plans for the two institutions by January.

The deal may see Nationwide's €500m (£422m) worth of commercial real estate loans merged with Anglo's, while options for Nationwide's €2bn (£1.7bn) residential mortgage unit will also be explored.

Deposits from both banks are expected to be transferred to "healthier" Irish banks.

Last month, the Government said the restructuring of both Anglo and Nationwide would be "swiftly completed and submitted for EU state-aid approval".