Quinn Group set to return to ‘local hands’

Analysis: former managers and locals buy everything except glass division

Some of the Quinn Group premises are on the farm where Séan Quinn grew up, land that the entrepreneur hasn’t been allowed walk on since April 2011. Photograph: Alan Betson

Some of the Quinn Group premises are on the farm where Séan Quinn grew up, land that the entrepreneur hasn’t been allowed walk on since April 2011. Photograph: Alan Betson

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 01:00

It was a case of the Quinn Group is dead, long live the Quinn Group yesterday with the announcement that a team made up of former management and local business people, is set to buy a significant part of the group.

While the cluster of manufacturing businesses on the Derrylin/Ballyconnell road, that crosses the border between counties Fermanagh and Cavan, still bear names such as Quinn Therm and Quinn Cement, the holding group changed its name some time ago to Aventas.

Fine Gael councillor John McCartin, a key driver in the push to get the plants back into local ownership, says he sees no point in changing the names of the various subsidiaries that Aventas is considering selling.

“So it’s natural to think that we might call it the Quinn Group.”

Liam McCaffrey, the former chief executive of the Quinn Group (when it was owned by Seán Quinn’s family), will be the chief executive of the new entity.

The investors will be buying everything but Quinn Glass, according to McCartin, and the turnover of the businesses being purchased is about €160 million.

About four-fifths of the employees will be affected.

Quinn Glass, meanwhile, has a turnover of about €300 million, according to McCartin and, as matters stand, he and his colleagues have no financial backer in place should it come up for sale. But they will be interested in making a pitch when the time comes.

McCartin would not discuss price. As far as he is aware there was no other bidder for the businesses, other than one potential bidder for Quinn Packaging.

It seems beyond dispute that the campaign of intimidation that was waged against the Aventas Group since the appointment of a share receiver to the Quinn Group back in April 2011, has damaged the value of the businesses.

But McCartin, who has condemned the violence, says it also made it more difficult to find a financial backer.

Whatever about price, McCartin was certain that the businesses are being bought at a good time and with a perfect management team.

The new team will include eight senior figures from the Quinn years, including former Quinn Group financial director Dara O’Reilly and former Quinn Group development director Kevin Lunney.

McCaffrey, O’Reilly and Lunney have been key Quinn Group and Quinn family loyalists through their business careers.

McCartin set up the Quinn Business Retention Company Ltd (now QBRC) in January tis year, with local businessmen John Bosco O’Hagan and Ernie Fisher, and brought former management on board.

The idea is that within about five years, the founders, Endless, will have been paid off, and the ownership will have shifted to management, or “local hands”, as McCartin calls it. (He says that he has no interest in a shareholding.)

There is no Quinn family money involved and the vendors would have vetted this, he says.

Some of the Quinn Group premises are on the farm where Séan Quinn grew up, land that the entrepreneur hasn’t been allowed walk on since April 2011.

Maybe he will get to go for a walk there some time soon.

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