Thursday 21 September 2017

McKillen and NAMA battle to the end of hotels case

Shane Hickey in London

Closing arguments centre on timing of share sale to Barclays

LAWYERS for developer Paddy McKillen and NAMA have clashed over the timing of a deal to sell shares in three London hotels to the Barclay brothers. Yesterday was the last day of a landmark legal action.

Final closing arguments were heard in the High Court in London in the case in which Mr McKillen is suing the Barclays over their attempts to take over Coroin, the company which owns Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught hotels.

One of the features of the case is criticism by the McKillen side over what is described as a lack of consultation in the sale of financier Derek Quinlan's shares to the Barclays.

Mr McKillen claims that the transfer was unlawful and that he was given just 57 minutes' notice of it. NAMA has rejected the charge.

In court yesterday, Richard Hill, QC for Mr McKillen, said the timeframe was "unrealistically short".

"(The timeframe) gave no proper time for the company (Coroin) to give informed consideration of its position with its advisers, make informed representations and/or allow for those representations to be considered," he told the court.

"The timing was so short here that the company could not realistically be expected to do more than it did, which was to complain about the lack of consultation and ask for more time, as it was entitled to."

Robin Dicker QC, for NAMA, reasserted arguments from the agency over its handling of the issue that have previously been heard in the case.

Loans

He said that NAMA had received an offer to acquire the loans for the full amount and that if they had not been sold, they would have gone into default a few days later.

"What could the company have said that might have influenced NAMA not to sell the loans? What alternative could it have offered NAMA? What was it the company could have said that might have persuaded NAMA to take some other course?" he asked.

"Because if it could not have said anything to NAMA that might have influenced it, it is difficult to see that there was anything to discuss and any reason to prolong the process of consultation."

Mr Dicker said suggestions that refinancing could have occurred with another 28 days were "nonsense" and that a further extension of the loan would have been "hopeless".

He claimed that Mr McKillen did not have a "genuine belief" that the consultation period was too short but that the move was instead part of a wider battle with the Barclays.

He added: "In our respectful submission, it is not one which should be right to visit directly or indirectly on NAMA."

Yesterday was the final day of arguments in the case, which began in March.

Judge David Richards has reserved judgment in the case. He is expected to return with a verdict by the end of June or start of July.

Irish Independent

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