Lagan pulls plug on Quinn deal following intimidation campaign and death threats

Company says no business can operate when threats put workers and directors at risk

Building group Lagan is pulling out of a deal to buy part of Seán Quinn’s former business empire following a campaign of intimidation that included a threat to its chairman’s life.

Lagan was poised to buy a rooftile manufacturing business in Co Fermanagh, from Aventas, formerly the Quinn Group, later this month under the terms of an agreement announced in February.

The Belfast-based construction and building materials group told Aventas yesterday that it was pulling out of the purchase and blamed an intimidation campaign that affected both parties for its decision.

In a statement, Lagan said “no business could operate when criminal threats against operational decisions put employees, directors and families at risk”.

The company said that, last week, on the day his wife died, chairman Kevin Lagan received a letter warning that, if the sale went ahead, the buyers "would not live to see the benefits of the sale".

"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," Lagan Group said.

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

Since Lagan announced it had agreed to buy the business, a number of its properties have been attacked. In one weekend in February, vandals set fire to machinery and vehicles in premises in counties Cork and Down, causing an estimated €1 million worth of damage.

Last year, when the companies announced they were looking at a possible merger of their cement manufacturing operations, a Lagan executive received a bullet in the post. Aventas has also been the subject of a series of attacks and threats. Mr Quinn has consistently condemned all of these activities.