Quinn says he could repay Anglo debt in seven years

 

SEAN QUINN has said he would be able to repay the €2.8 billion his family owes to Anglo Irish Bank within seven years if Quinn Insurance could be allowed to stay under the control of Quinn Group.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Timelast night, Mr Quinn also admitted a “mistake” in buying shares in Anglo Irish, which largely led to the €2.8 billion debt. He denied impropriety in relation to Anglo, saying: “We didn’t do anything wrong”.

“It probably comes down to a mistake I made in buying shares, but that’s where it lands,” Mr Quinn said. He feels “very bad” about Quinn Insurance staff being laid off because he had lost billions on the Anglo investment.

“The staff have been very loyal to me for the last 30 odd years, and I would feel very bad about the fact that so many of them are being laid off,” he said.

“I mean, if they were being laid off because they were losing money, then I could understand it. They’re laid off by the most profitable insurance company in Ireland for 10 consecutive years, margin-wise, and to be laid off by the most profitable insurer in Ireland, when you’re laid off because Seán Quinn, the chairman lost three billion in shares, it’s tough, it’s tough.”

Some 900 staff at Quinn Insurance have voluntarily applied for redundancy at the firm.

Mr Quinn acknowledged the solvency problems at Quinn Insurance, which went into administration in March. Under his plan for the company, all the profits from the company would “go to the reduction of the Anglo debt, 100 per cent of it”. Repayment would be complete within seven years, he said.

“The jobs we’ve established in Cavan, our head office – we’d like to think that the new arrangement if it was accepted would continue to be our head office, and that it clears all the debt. In seven years time, we have a projection to 2017, we would have enough profit made in the meantime, plus the value of the company in seven years time would clear 100 per cent of the debt.”

The proposed strategy appears to run contrary to an earlier acceptance by Quinn Group that the insurance wing would be sold to new investors.

Mr Quinn claimed Anglo could not demand repayment of its debt, which he said was secured on “property throughout the world, in nine countries”.

He said the value of that property was “substantial” but declined to specify and, when pushed, acknowledged that it would “probably not” be worth more €1 billion. He also accepted that there could be a gap of €2 billion between Quinn assets and the Anglo debt.

“Could be, could be – which is very easily paid back.”

He declined to discuss Anglo in detail but said he was “totally” unaware of the infamous Anglo 10 deal, which saw 10 investors borrow funds from the bank to take on 10 per cent of its shares from Quinn.

“I’m not going into that whole scene. All I can tell you is that we didn’t do anything wrong with Anglo or anybody else,” said Mr Quinn.