Belfast Telegraph

Quinn firm sale stops after threats

A major construction company has pulled out of a deal to buy a business formerly owned by bankrupt tycoon Sean Quinn due to a campaign of attacks and intimidation that included a death threat being received by its chairman on the day his wife died.

Northern Ireland based Lagan Group had planned to take over Aventas Rooftiles, based in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.

The rooftile business is one of a number that belonged to the Quinn Group before its dramatic collapse in 2011.

The Aventas Group, which took over the running of the Quinn business empire, has been repeatedly targeted by sinister elements in the area who fiercely opposed the change in management.

Mr Quinn, who was once Ireland's richest man, has condemned those behind the violent intimidation.

Since the Lagan Group's interest in Aventas Rooftiles emerged it too has been on the receiving end of threats and criminal attacks on plant and property.

Announcing its decision to pull out of the deal, the Lagan Group said "no business could operate when criminal threats against operational decisions put employees, directors and their families at risk".

The group revealed that last week group chairman Kevin Lagan received a death threat on the day his wife Kate died.

"Over the past number of months we have been engaging with the local workforce and management to secure a stable and sustainable future for the employees in the former Sean Quinn Rooftiles business now owned by Aventas," said a Lagan Group spokesman.

"During this time various parts of the Lagan Group (and indeed businesses not connected to the Group) have sustained a series of criminal attacks on property and plant causing substantial financial damage. These were executed with the sole purpose of creating a toxic atmosphere of fear and intimidation in order to illegally dissuade potential investment and investors into the area.

"We have repeatedly said that it was only a matter of time before such attacks switched their focus from property and plant to people.

"Last week, on the day his wife died, Mr Kevin Lagan, chairman of the Lagan Group, received a letter containing a threat that should the Rooftiles business sale proceed, the purchasers 'would not live to see the benefits of the sale'.

"No business can be expected to operate under such duress when normal operational decisions could result in putting employees, directors and their families at personal risk.

"Notwithstanding our desire to grow and invest in the Fermanagh Rooftiles operations in order to support local communities through the maintenance of existing jobs and the creation of new jobs, we have decided to withdraw from the purchase process. We have informed the Aventas management team of our decision.

"This is a sad day for both the employees and for the local communities. It also sends out completely the wrong message to potential investors, both regionally and internationally."

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