Irish Envoy Says Quinn Recovery May Aid Trade With Russia
Philip McDonagh, Ireland’s ambassador to Russia, said recovering assets related to the Quinn family may help trade relations between the two nations.
Four months ago, Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which has since been liquidated, said it was starting a joint venture with A1, a unit of billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, to recoup real estate assets in Russia and Ukraine accumulated by the Quinn family.
McDonagh said recovering the assets is of “paramount importance” to Ireland, and A1 President Mikhail Khabarov said he was “confident” it could be done.
“These assets belong to a nationalized bank and ultimately they belong to the Irish government and every Irish person,” McDonagh told reporters in Moscow today.
Sean Quinn Sr., once Ireland’s richest man, his son Sean and nephew Peter Quinn placed assets outside the reach of the nationalized lender after a court ordered them to stop last year, High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne said on June 26. Irish businessmen, including Quinn and Quinlan Private’s Derek Quinlan, were some of the biggest foreign investors in Russian commercial property during Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” boom.
The IBRC had a “number of unsolicited offers” from banks and other parties because the assets are attractive, according to senior manager Stephen Kenny.
“A competitive tender wouldn’t have worked,” Kenny said in an interview at the briefing. “The bank sought internal and external advice. It was important we got a partner suitable for a state-owned entity.”
A1 is paying to participate in the joint venture, Kenny said. It will get 30 percent from the sale of recovered assets, according to an A1 statement. Efforts have already been successfully made to stop assets being moved to Belize and Panama, Kenny said.
Progress has been made in reclaiming a shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev along with assets in Moscow and the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, Kenny said. All assets will be sold on the open market, he said.
A1, formerly known as Alfa-Eco, was set up in 1989 as the first main company in the Alfa Group Consortium. It has helped manage billions of dollars of assets for the group in energy, metals, telecommunications and retail. After the 2008 economic crisis, it set up a distressed assets project to manage and arrange the sale of “non-core assets” acquired through the restructuring of distressed loans from 2008 to 2009.
An Irish government agency reported a 19 percent increase in Irish exports of goods to Russia to 603 million euros ($775 million) last year. In contrast, the value of Russian exports to Ireland in 2012 was 100 million euros, according to Irish Central Statistics Office.