Sale of former Quinn family assets in Russia and Ukraine faces delay

Invasion a setback for IBRC liquidators who were working towards sale of valuable buildings

Plans by the liquidators of IBRC to recover money from the sale of Ukranian and Russian property once owned by the family of businessman Seán Quinn is likely to be delayed as a result the Kremlin’s attack on its western neighbour this week, according to sources.

A unit of IBRC owns a six-storey office building in Kyiv and the Univermag shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital, which had been estimated to have a combined value of €70 million-€80 million prior to the invasion. Both properties were locked up as Russian troops advanced towards the city.

The subsidiary, QIPG Refinance Ltd, also owns a 20-storey Moscow office block, known as Kutuzoff Tower, and a major logistics centre in Kazan, called Q Park, almost 800km east of the Russian capital. These are estimated to have a combined value of about €100 million.

The liquidators of IBRC, Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson of KPMG, were known to be planning on putting the Russian assets on the market this year, with the Ukranian properties following as soon as next year.

Sources said the disposals are now likely to be delayed as a result of the geopoligical crisis caused by Russian president Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine and as western leaders respond with a fresh raft of sanctions against the world's 12th-largest economy.

Property seizure

Ukraine businesses had suffered a string of cyberattacks in the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion, which Kyiv blamed on its neighbour.

Belfast-based QIPG Refinance was set up in 2013 to go after an international portfolio of office blocks, shopping malls and logistics warehouses – once worth €500 million – that had been used as collateral against loans from IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank. The bank moved to seize the properties in 2011.

The Quinn family settled a bitter dispute with IBRC three years ago, having originally claimed that Anglo Irish Bank had illegally given them €2.35 billion in loans at the height of the financial crisis to prop up a stake in the bank before it failed. An execution of a judgment against the Quinns for €440 million was stayed on condition that the family helped secure the return to IBRC of valuable assets in their international property group.

QIPG Refinance was previously jointly owned by the IBRC and Alfa A1, a business controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group. However, A1 exited the joint venture in 2016 after struggling to sell assets in the midst of a Russian recession at the time.

Separately, the EU moved on Thursday evening to add Alfa Group's Alfa Bank to a list of Russian banks banned from accessing the bloc's funding markets.

The latest set of filed financial accounts for QIPG Refinance, for the year through June 2020, showed that the company recovered $8 million after the period under review in relation to debt owed against Russian and Ukrainian companies and assets.

The inflows were recorded under the heading of “events since the end of the financial year”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times