Belfast company established to recover Quinn family’s overseas assets is being wound up

Sale of Seán Quinn’s former Russian properties hampered by war in Ukraine

Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, which was part of the international property group owned by Seán Quinn (inset) and his family.
Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, which was part of the international property group owned by Seán Quinn (inset) and his family.

A company set up in Belfast to recover the overseas property assets belonging to the former billionaire Seán Quinn and his family is in the process of being formally wound up.

QIPG Refinance Limited was established in 2012 as part of the efforts by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) to go after the Quinn International Property Group (QIPG) assets.

IBRC, which was formed in 2011 from the merger of the failed Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, is expected to be wound up by the end of this year.

The liquidation of IBRC was originally announced in 2013.

The wind down process is well underway in the north, with Interpath Advisory formally commencing the legal process of liquidating the asset recovery operation for the Quinn international properties during Easter week.

The former Quinn assets, which included office blocks, shopping centres and logistics warehouses, were once valued at around €500 million and used as collateral against loans from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

The IBRC moved to seize the properties in 2011 as part of the effort to recover some of the €2.9 billion Mr Quinn owed Anglo.

Many of the properties, including the 20-storey Kutuzoff Tower in Moscow, are located inside Russia and Ukraine.

While QIPG Refinance and IBRC are not the property owners per se, they own the right to any proceeds from the sale of the assets.

But selling the assets has been significantly hampered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The last set of accounts submitted to Companies House for QIPG Refinance show it paid a dividend of $15m to its IBRC parent in August 2022.

It’s understood that significant book debt relating to Russian properties remains on the accounts of QIPG Refinance.

That book debt will be moved up the ladder into the parent IBRC entities once the Belfast company is dissolved.

The fact QIPG Refinance has been declared solvent with no creditors means the liquidation process should be straightforward.

But recovering any further cash from the Russian properties will be challenging in the present international climate.

That won’t be the case for the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan, which is expected to be placed on the market by CBRE this month with a €30m asking price.

The four-star golf resort in Ballyconnell, once formed the showpiece of Sean Quinn’s business empire in the Fermanagh and Cavan border region.

Former Irish presidential candidate Seán Gallagher has already expressed his interest in buying the hotel.

It’s understood a deal for another Quinn hotel is also close to being finalised.

The Buswells hotel in Dublin is being sold to the Murtagh family, the biggest shareholders in the Kingspan Group, according to The Times.

Located close to Leinster House, the hotel had been marketed for €22m.

Former Quinn pubs in Dublin, The Barge and JW Sweetman, were sold last year, as was a Notthingham hotel previously owned by Seán Quinn’s youngest daughter Aoife.

The 128-bedroom Holiday Inn sold for around £12m.

A spokesperson from the Department of Finance in Dublin said the special liquidation of IBRC is currently targeted to substantially conclude in 2024.

“The special liquidators continue their ongoing management of the wind down process and as with any liquidation process, this can include the winding up of certain subsidiaries, and does not necessarily involve the sale of assets.

“Asset realisation strategies and decisions on the disposal of assets are a matter for the special liquidators.”

Senior figures from KPMG were originally appointed as special liquidators of IBRC in 2013, but that changed in 2022 when Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson joined Interpath Advisory.

The new firm was formed in 2021 when KPMG sold its 550-person UK insolvency and restructuring unit to private equity fund HIG Capital for around £350 million.

Stuart Irwin, who previously led KPMG’s restructuring practice in Northern Ireland, became Interpath’s Belfast-based managing director in late 2022.

He was joined at the emerging firm by ex-KPMG director Ian Leonard.

Both Mr Irwin and Mr Leonard were officially appointed as liquidators of QIPG Refinance on March 27 2024.

A notice that the company is to be wound up voluntarily was issued the same day.