Sean Quinn Snr – the richest man in Ireland – took a £1 billion hit when the state took over Anglo Irish bank last January. He had just bought 25 per cent of it before the shares collapsed.
But the business interests of Sean Quinn Jnr – owner of the Belfry hotel, golf and leisure complex near Sutton Coldfield, have fared rather better, even though The Belfry missed out on top-flight golf tournament for the first time in years.
Sean Quinn Snr’s wealth – despite the Anglo-Irish foray – is well over £2.3 billion. His Quinn Group – 100 per cent owned by him, his wife and their five children – is the largest and most profitable private company in Ireland.
The 2009 Quinn Insurance British Masters golf tournament fell victim to the recession and was scratched out of the tour, despite being successfully staged at The Belfry for the previous three years. The event costs £2 million to stage.
The 324 bedroom Belfry Hotel is part of Quinn Hotels, which 31 year-old Sean Jnr runs outside the Quinn Group’s main structure.
Quinn Hotels also owns the Holiday Inn in Nottingham as well as the Crowne Plaza in Cambridge, the Slieve Russell and Buswells hotels in Ireland, the Hilton and Ibis hotels in Prague, the Hilton in Sofia and the Sheraton in Krakow, Poland.
Sean Quinn Jnr is said by some to be the heir to the Quinn fortune, and already owns 20.3 per cent of the company and has a £6 million pension fund. He also owns a luxurious £1 million-plus penthouse apartment in the exclusive Farmleigh Woods district of Dublin.
Sean Quinn Jnr’s 550 acre Belfry complex is a Mecca for golfers from all over the world. A £200 million revamp of the complex has been put on ice because of economic uncertainty. A revised construction timetable is being drawn up for the plans which include the creation of the Midlands only five-star hotel, a new PGA national headquarters, a training academy and a 21st-century clubhouse.
As the headquarters of the PGA and the four-times host of the Ryder Cup, golf and The Belfry are inextricably linked. The Brabazon course in particular is internationally renowned and is benefiting from a £2 million enhancement programme which will include a water feature on the par three seventh hole.
Sean Quinn Jnr certainly doesn’t have to worry about a stable financial future. His father’s Quinn Group continues to grow despite setbacks. The group began in 1973 as a quarrying operation on Sean Quinn’s 23-acre dairy farm. Now the company embraces construction, glass, radiators, packaging, plastics, fitness clubs and bars as well as financial services, insurance, pensions and savings. The company also owns BUPA Ireland.