April 14, 2011

Liberty Mutual Move on Insurer

Liberty Mutual Group Inc. and Anglo Irish Bank Corp. may take over Quinn Insurance Ltd. as the lender ousted Sean Quinn and his family from a debt-laden empire that spanned real estate to financial services.

If the country’s regulator approves, Boston-based Liberty Mutual would take a majority stake and Anglo Irish a minority holding in Quinn Insurance, Ireland’s central bank said in a statement today. Anglo Irish also took control of the equity interest of the Quinn Group (ROI) Ltd., parent of a company whose interests include the Belfry golf club in the U.K.

“The bank is owed an enormous amount of money by Sean Quinn and his family, which they are not in a position to pay,” Anglo Irish Chief Executive OfficerMike Aynsley said in a statement.

The Quinns owe 2.8 billion euros ($4 billion) to Anglo Irish, the company said in a Jan. 11 statement. Once ranked by the Sunday Times as Ireland’s richest man, Sean Quinn and his family no longer have any role in the management, operations or ownership of the company, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement today.

A spokesman for the family declined to comment. Matthew Elderfield, Ireland’s head of financial regulation, installed administrators last year after Quinn Insurance posted a loss of 788 million euros for 2009.

Quinn Group Chairman Pat O’Neill said the company has reached a form of restructuring that “will permanently relieve” the company’s manufacturing unit of more than 500 million euros of debt. In a statement, he said the move was necessary for the survival of the company.

Debt Plan

Anglo Irish’s Aynsley said the lender has reached an agreement in principal on a five-year debt restructuring plan with Quinn Group (ROI) Ltd. bondholders owed 1.28 billion euros by the cement-to-insurance group. The lenders agreed to a “substantial” cut in the debt, they said in an e-mailed statement.

“The appointment of a share receiver to the Quinn family’s equity interest will have no impact on the day-to-day running of the businesses and there are absolutely no planned redundancies or expected job losses,” said Aynsley in a phone interview. “The bank will not assume any management role.”

Quinn’s problems began when he built a 25 percent interest in Anglo Irish, which was nationalized in 2009 as real estate loans soured. Quinn said last year his family lost 3 billion euros on equity investments following the collapse of shares on the Irish stock market in 2007.

Quinn began his business career in the 1970s by selling gravel from his family’s County Fermanagh farm. He went on to build Ireland’s second biggest cement maker before expanding into more than 20 businesses including insurance.

Quinn agreed to buy the Irish health insurance business of British United Provident Association Ltd. in 2007, adding almost 500,000 customers. Quinn resigned as chairman of Quinn Insurance in 2008 after the country’s financial regulator fined the company for making loans that breached regulations.

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