After making a fortune in the grocery business, Feargal Quinn cast his financial net in search of bountiful investments.
He hauled in a piece of Barry O'Callaghan's mighty minnow's dream of swallowing a publishing house whale.
Mr. Quinn swam with the sharks, only to get swallowed down himself.
With 400 million euros in profit from the sale of the SuperQuinn chain, he sank approximately 16 million into the deal that saw Riverdeep merge with Houghton Mifflin. Now comes word of a planned restructuring of the mountain of debt, and Mr. Quinn has seen his stake in Riverdeep-Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt-EMPG sink like a stone.
He's not the only Irish millionaire to fall victim to a dream of grandeur. Even a savvy banker like Sean Fitzpatrick tossed a bit of his cash into the pot. Now he's lost his investment in EMPG, and that coming on the heels of the failure of Anglo Irish Bank. No one knows for certain how much Anglo Irish cash was invested in Mr. O'Callaghan's projects, or how much he might owe the bank. The Irish people now own Anglo Irish, and the bank is insolvent.
Clients of Davy Stockbrokers were eaten by the debt shark as well, and they're in good company with the likes of financier Domhnail Slattery, who has also lost big.
Like a private club, the Irish millionaires invested in each other's schemes, only to find themselves all together at the bottom of the financial sea.
As for HMH, the whale of a publishing firm, it looks to be smoother sailing in the future. Thanks to a massive debt restructuring scheme that has seen so many Irish investors wiped out, the end product of the merger frenzy is in a stronger position going forward, and may very well survive the storm-tossed seas.
Barry O'Callaghan will be hoping to set up a nice little deal for himself, to recoup some of his spectacular losses. Surely the CEO of such a large firm as HMH is deserving of stock options and a hefty salary?