'Hotel sale was massive success, I am working hard to repay my debt'
Derek Quinlan tells Niamh Horan why he moved to Switzerland and that he wants to invest in Ireland
Derek Quinlan has spoken for the first time following the sale of the Savoy Hotel Group, describing it as a "major success for all concerned".
Since 2004, when Mr Quinlan put together a consortium of people to purchase the three luxury hotels, to the sale last month, the deal has made over €1bn for the various shareholders.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent this weekend, Mr Quinlan said: "I regard the purchase of the Savoy Hotel by the consortium I created in 2004 as the highlight of my career as an international investor and my years involved in the hotels as a great privilege."
And he added: "The sale of the entire shareholding of the Maybourne Group to Constellation Hotels is a major success for all concerned.
"I wish Constellation, as the new owners, and the management and staff of Maybourne Hotel Group every success going forward."
Derek Quinlan and the Barclay Brothers announced the sale of their stake and the cessation of all litigation on April 23. On April 28, Paddy McKillen announced that he had also sold his shares to the Qataris. Industry insiders believe the Qataris had lined up all three shareholders to sell at the same time.
Meanwhile, commenting on his debt repayments to the Irish taxpayer, he said: "Since 2009 I have stood my ground to maximise my overall debt repayment and avoided bankruptcy. My debt repayment since 2009 exceeds €3.75bn. The entire proceeds of the Maybourne sale have been used for debt repayment.
"Despite severe health issues that required hospitalisation and open-heart surgery in April 2013, I stayed committed to the debt reduction process.
"With a small and dedicated team, I have reached agreements with all my commercial banks. I have dedicated the last six years of my life to this task. There is still more to do."
The former tax inspector also addressed his controversial move to take up permanent residency in Switzerland.
"On the advice of KPMG I moved to Switzerland so that I could maximise my debt repayment and reduce my tax leakage."
And he said he is now working hard to pay back his debts in full before looking to invest in opportunities in Ireland again:
"Once I have completed matters with Nama, I must look to create income opportunities for my family. I would like to look at opportunities in both Ireland and the UK."