Seán Quinn Sr. drives his Land Rover up and down the highways and back roads of the border region and seems to live a life that many of us can only dream of.
But in his Gant sweaters and interviews in his opulent home today, his worries seem far removed from the reality many grapple with a cost-of-living crisis.
In the RTÉ documentation – Quinn country – which ended up airing later in the week, Mr Quinn painted a picture of a local boy who had been wronged by the state. He wants us to believe that he is a scapegoat for the crisis that has effectively bankrupted the country.
In reality, his predicament is entirely of his own design.
And while he and his family may lament the fact that they have “lost” everything he worked for, the trappings of wealth – small as they are – are still there.
His sprawling lakefront home next to the Slieve Russell Hotel and golf course he once owned is nothing more than a fantasy for tens of thousands of young people who cannot afford a home of their own and are struggling to find a home to buy.
As the country suffocated under the weight of bank bailouts during the financial crisis more than a decade ago, Ireland joined an international bailout program.
Meanwhile, the Quinn empire was being primed for evisceration. After betting heavily on Anglo Irish Bank shares and leaving nearly €3 billion in debt, Mr Quinn’s assets would be confiscated in Ireland, the UK, Europe and elsewhere.
His house no longer belongs to him either. In 2012, when Ireland was struggling with the crisis, the estate passed from him to his children.
Official records confirm that on February 1, 2012, ownership of the Quinn family home in Ballyconnell passed to his five descendants: Sean Jr., Ciara, Colette, Aoife and Brenda.
The “degree of treason” that Seán Quinn Sr. claims in the RTE documentary — “probably unprecedented in the history of this state” — is nothing more than a self-sufficient, delusional distraction from reality.
And the empire he built is now scattered to the four winds. But Mr Quinn still seems to believe he has an inalienable right of ownership.
Professional services firm KPMG was appointed Share Manager of Quinn Group in 2011. The company has been investigated and dissected as its assets have been appraised and tracked down from cement factories and insurance companies to hotels and pubs and more.
The group’s core businesses – cement, quarries and concrete products, and glass container manufacture – which formed much of the basis of Quinn Group’s initial success were renamed Aventas in late 2013 after being taken over by creditors including Irish Bank Resolution Corporation , formerly Anglo Irish Bank, and US bondholder.
So what happened to the biggest assets?
The production facilities in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh and Elton near Liverpool were sold to the Spanish group Vidrala in 2014 for 409 million euros.
cement, concrete, packaging
The group’s building materials division and its packaging unit were sold to Quinn Business Retention Company (QBRC) in 2014 for €90 million. QBRC, which includes executives Liam McCaffrey and Kevin Lunney, was later renamed Mannok.
Quinn Group’s main insurance business, Quinn Direct, was acquired by US-based Liberty Mutual and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in 2011 for just €1. However, the Quinn insurer was 81 million euros in debt. IBRC owned nearly half of the insurance business until late 2013, when Liberty took it over entirely.
In 2012 Irish Life & Permanent acquired Quinn’s life insurance and pensions division.
In 2015, Swiss firm Schweiter Technologies agreed to buy Quinn’s plastics business, which had been renamed Polycasa, for €120 million.
Hotels, shopping malls, pubs
The Quinn Group controlled a number of hotels and other real estate investments across Europe.
These include the famous Hilton Prague Hotel in the Czech capital, Dublin’s famous Buswells Hotel and the Slieve Russell Hotel next to Mr Quinn’s house. They are still controlled by the state.
The Prague hotel was valued at 235 million euros in 2019. Buswells was put up for sale in September this year for €22 million.
The Slieve Russell remains under the effective control of the state.
Meanwhile, plans to sell former Quinn assets in Ukraine and Russia have been delayed for years, most recently because of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.
Assets include a six-story office building in Kyiv and the city’s Univermag shopping center.
In 2014, a 54 MW wind farm in Slieve Rushen was sold to a London-based investment firm for €127 million.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/comment/what-happened-to-sean-quinns-empire-left-scattered-to-the-winds-from-slieve-rushen-to-russia-and-beyond-42192362.html What happened to Sean Quinn’s empire, scattered to the four winds from Slieve Rushen to Russia and beyond?