Belfast Telegraph

Sean Quinn says buying back firm 'is not top of our agenda'

by Maeve Sheehan

The former Fermanagh billionaire Sean Quinn claims he is "not losing any sleep" over his ambitions to buy back the business empire he founded and spectacularly lost after gambling on Anglo Irish Bank's share price.

"If they want to just wreck it, so be it, on their head it is.

"If they want me to save it, I can do that. I have the raw materials, the support of the staff, the support of the community, and the support of everybody to do it, and the ability and the knowledge and the know-how to do it," he said.

"I am not losing sleep over it. It is entirely up to them".

Quinn emerged in public last Tuesday, for the first time in years, to allege to a crowd of local supporters that he was "knifed in the back" by the new owners of his former empire who have turned around the business to deliver a €200m turnover and a 59% increase in profits.

Quinn said he was invited to address the meeting of supporters in the Border town of Ballyconnell, Co Cavan.

"They asked me to go public over the last number of years which I refused to do," he said.

But he thought it "would only be right to fill in the Quinn supporters on what the position was, they were reading in the paper about how well the company was doing and all this sort of craic".

He added: "I went and I explained things as I saw them and that was it."

He claimed that while it was true sales and employment had increased at his former concrete and plastics business, it had run out of raw materials "because nobody in the local community are going to sell to what they would consider as traitors and what I would consider as traitors".

Once Ireland's richest man, Quinn was ousted from his businesses over his €2bn debt, racked up buying shares in the former Anglo Irish Bank. He was jailed for contempt of court and declared bankrupt.

An Irish consortium, backed by US investors, bought back part of his businesses, with Quinn's blessing, and hired him as a consultant on €500,000 a year.

Quinn left that role in 2016, claiming it was by "mutual consent" but told the Sunday Independent last week that he was "sacked in writing".

Quinn's public address last Tuesday marks a ratcheting up of tensions in the area in recent months. A new Facebook page, Sean Quinn community, was launched in April by a group claiming to include current and former employees. A previous Facebook page was shut down by the High Court.

Separately, it has been learned that Quinn Industrial Holdings has recorded 19 separate incidents since taking over the business in December 2014. These include an alleged physical assault on a relative of one of the group's senior management in May, while threatening and hostile signs have been erected in the area.

Sean Quinn has consistently condemned threats and intimidation against his former business, and repeated this weekend that he has had no hand, act or part in any campaign.

Having told the public meeting last week he wanted to buy back the business, Quinn told the Sunday Independent it was "not the top of our agenda". He added: "Top of our agenda is winning the court case next year and growing Quinn Bet," referring to the online betting firm he launched last year and which is run by his family.

He said the business has left the family "in a much more stable position, mind wise and money wise".

A legal action by Quinn wife's Patricia and her children, denying liability for the €2.3bn debt, is due in the Dublin High Court in January. The family are also being pursued over the alleged asset stripping by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Anglo's successor.

As for his troubles of the past years, Quinn said: "Let's put it this way. Whatever I have to do in life, I just get on with it and do it. So if you are asking me was it a very worrying time? I slept every night from the time they took it [the business] off me eight years ago."

Quinn Industrial Holdings was invited but did not attend the meeting in Ballyconnell.

A statement said the representations of the company's prospects at the meeting were "inaccurate".

"Quinn Industrial Holdings DAC reported a 59% increase in pre-tax profits last year, and this year has seen a continuation of the trend of increased turnover, profits, investment and employment. Due to the hard work of the company's 830 staff, the company's long-term future is bright."

Belfast Telegraph

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