Payday for Kevin Lagan as he sells business for over €525m

Belfast born Lagan built up family business but will hold on to housebuilding arm

A rich list published earlier this year put the combined wealth of the Belfast-born Lagan brothers, Kevin and Michael, at some € 1.3 billion. But the sale, announced today, of Kevin's Lagan Group for € 526 million in cash is likely to propel him further up the wealth table.

Kevin (68) joined the Lagan family business in the early 1960s. Founded by haulier Peter Lagan in 1960 with the acquisition of the White Mountain Quarry outside Belfast, Kevin took over from his father in 1969, working with his brother Michael on building up the business. They moved into asphalt and concrete production and started exporting to the Britain in 1984, later opening cement plants in the Republic and engaging in house building in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Family still dominates the business, with many of the Lagan brood still working in the enterprise. But a feud between the brothers threatened the future of the Lagan Group and subsequently led to the business being split up in 2008, with both working together on areas of mutual interest.

In February, the Lagan Construction Group, controlled by Michael, run by his son Kevin and unrelated to Lagan Group Holdings, appointed administrators to four of its companies.

Kevin Lagan also had a history of disputes with long-time rival Sean Quinn, notably in 2000, when Mr Quinn gave £30,000 to people campaigning against Lagan Cement's plans to build a £40 million cement factory near Kinnegad, Co Westmeath. At the time, Quinn said: "Kevin Lagan has done lots of things to me he should not be proud of. This is the first thing I've done to him that I am not proud of." The plant went ahead, and opened in 2002.

Subsequently however, Lagan discussed a merger with Quinn Building Products in 2013, but talks ended after just two months, after a rifle bullet was sent to Kevin Lagan. The bullet was in a cigar box on which was pasted the words, “Quinn . . . is this what you want”.

The following year it pulled out of a deal to buy another part of Quinn’s former empire, a rooftile manufacturing business in Co Fermanagh, from Aventas, following a campaign of intimidation. On the day of his wife’s death, Kevin Lagan received a letter warning that, if the sale went ahead, the buyers “would not live to see the benefits of the sale”.

Sale of the Lagan Group, announced today, may mark a significant departure for Kevin and his family, but not a complete exit; Kevin and his family are to keep Lagan Homes, one of the largest housebuilders in Northern Ireland, with turnover of some £76 million in 2017. It will also retain LF FastHouse, which is majority owned by Kevin. A manufacturer of modular closed panel and timber frame systems for the construction industry, it employs about 100 people and is supplying about 470 luxury holiday lodges to Ireland’s first-ever CenterParcs resort in Co Longford.