Belfast Telegraph

Sean Quinn's friends to buy back parts of empire in €90m deal

By Margaret Canning

The €90m private equity-led deal by allies of Sean Quinn to buy back parts of his former empire in Fermanagh and Cavan will complete in the next few weeks, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal

Private equity house Endless LLP and a consortium of businesspeople calling themselves Quinn Business Retention Company are finishing due diligence into the packaging and construction industry supplies businesses in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, Derrylin in Co Fermanagh and in Longford.

The deal, which the consortium has said company founder and fallen tycoon Sean Quinn is not involved in, is expected to be complete with the businesses due to be off-loaded by Aventas – the new name for Quinn since it was taken over by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

The consortium, backed by Endless, is led by John McCartin, a Fine Gael councillor in Co Leitrim and head of Newtowngore Engineering, and fellow businessmen John O'Hagan and Ernie Fisher.

Former Quinn Group executives are also involved – and former chief executive Liam McCaffrey is to lead the new business. Mr McCartin told the Belfast Telegraph: "We are finishing the deal and the company (Aventas) is committed to finishing it. I don't see any major problems."

As to whether the consortium could seek ownership of other Quinn businesses, which include glass and radiator operations, he said: "We are what it says on the tin, The Quinn Business Retention Company, and we would like to be involved in any other disposal processes."

IBRC's moves to appoint administrators and eject Sean Quinn and his family from their business empire in 2011 met with large organised protests in Cavan and Fermanagh, where many of the businesses were located and locals were loyal to Quinn. But the businesses have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons after a string of arson attacks and other forms of vandalism directed against Aventas.

However, Endless LLP is believed to regard growth prospects for the businesses as good as the construction sector and economy in the UK and Ireland improve.

Antrim-born Garry Wilson, managing partner of Endless LLP in England, which also funded a management buy-out of Cookstown Sausages parent company Karro, said: "We would very much like to invest further in Northern Ireland and I hope that Cookstown Sausages and Quinn will help us in that aim."

Mr Wilson said business process outsourcing was likely to remain a growth area for the Northern Ireland economy.

"The media and business outsourcing sectors are a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland.

"I know that the legal firms who have positioned their back office teams are delighted and have a huge respect for the work ethic and education system."

Mr Wilson's business first made headlines in Northern Ireland bak in 2012, when it backed the management-buy out of the sausage production side of English meat company Vion, which included the well-known Cookstown sausages brand.

Mr Wilson said the investment had been a success. "We have returned the group to profitability and the jewel in the crown –Cookstown – is making strong profits and generating cash."

He said he hoped Northern Ireland companies would come to embrace private equity funding. "It's a fantastic opportunity for the province and I hope I can help dispel some of the myths which the private equity industry has."

Mr Wilson was born in Belfast and lived in Glengormley, attending school in Antrim Grammar.

He then left to study in Scotland in 1989.

"I'm proud of my roots in Northern Ireland and my family still live there," he said.

Belfast Telegraph