It's a pity that Sean Quinn hung up during Prime Time last week when the phone line apparently became a bit shaky. Otherwise, we might have gained a little more insight into what was going on in the background with Quinn Insurance and the Financial Regulator prior to the decision to appoint administrators to the company. Instead, aside from the regulator's affidavit, we've had to rely on several statements from Quinn, most of which do not address the central issues involved in this case.
Tomorrow in the High Court, things are likely to become clearer when Quinn gets its chance to put forward its side of the case through legal means rather than wider statements to the media.
One thing for sure however is that there should be no political influence brought to bear on this case. Recent reports that the Taoiseach's office made representations on behalf of Arnotts during the recent restructuring of its loans to Anglo Irish Bank are deeply worrying. It's a precedent that should not be repeated.
McInerney fortunes going south
Quite the comedown for McInerney group managing director Barry O'Connor, who indicated last week that he was interested in purchasing the group's Spanish operations. Those would be the same operations where McInerney sold seven "high-end" apartments in 2008, down from 29 the previous year.
At its peak in early 2007, McInerney was valued at €646m but last week its market capitalisation stood at €24m. The share price collapse meant big drops in the value of investments by the likes of developer Liam Carroll and Quinn Direct. There's been little cheer in the last 12 months either; the stock price last week was 12c, less than half the 27c it was trading at last August. The share price is down nearly 40% in the year to date. In other countries such a performance might prompt calls for O'Connor to step down, but this is Ireland and we do things differently.
Instead, perma-tanned O'Connor, who owns more than 5% of McInerney, is mulling a bid for the Spanish operations which are concentrated on the Costa del Sol and include a holiday rental business at its five-star Alanda resort in Madrid, a resort management business, as well as the construction business. All told, the Spanish business generated revenues of just €8.2m in 2008, less than half the level of the previous year.
O'Connor's move came after the group announced at the end of last month that its operation in Spain was "currently the subject of a reorganisation plan designed to place it on hold until market activity returns".
That was part of a wider review of the group by Goldman Sachs International which will be advising McInerney on "strategic alternatives", including the need to raise new capital and restructure the bank's financing commitments. It faces a tough task.