Tuesday 24 January 2017

McKillen and Qataris to join forces in global plan

Paddy McKillen has found a valuable partner in the Qataris following their deal on Claridge's, writes Ronald Quinlan

Published 03/05/2015 | 02:30

Paddy McKillen
Paddy McKillen

Property tycoon Paddy McKillen has joined forces with the Qatari royal family-backed Constellation hotels group in a deal which he says will offer him "enormous new opportunities". The deal comes as part of Mr McKillen's agreement last weekend to sell his 36pc stake in London's world famous Claridge's, Berkeley and Connaught hotels to the group which is owned by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Holding.

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While the Belfast-born businessman is precluded by a confidentiality agreement from discussing the terms of his agreement with Constellation, the Sunday Independent understands the deal, which will see him take a stake in the Qatari-owned group's wider operations, was struck entirely separately to the Qataris' acquisition on the previous Thursday of the combined 64pc stake in the London hotels held by the billionaire Barclay brothers and financier Derek Quinlan.

"Paddy's deal with Constellation only happened last weekend. It's a great deal for him. He's still directly involved in the hotels and will be leading their redevelopment, but he now has a slice of a much bigger cake. He's going to be involved in some very exciting plans around the world with Constellation."

Asked what those plans might involve, Mr McKillen said simply: "This is part of a much bigger deal that offers me enormous new opportunities."

Commenting on his continuing and future involvement with Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught, he added: "It's a bright new dawn and our total focus is on our guests, staff and carrying out the wonderful plans we have in place for the hotels."

The decision by the Barclay brothers to sell their family's interests in Coroin, the company behind the iconic London hotels, brings to an end a four-year legal battle with Mr McKillen for their control which at times proved to be extremely bitter.

In a statement confirming the Barclays' decision to sell their stake to the Qataris, the brothers' representative Richard Faber said: "The business has performed strongly during the four years of our involvement and this has been a very successful investment for us. We are pleased to have concluded this transaction."

Mr Faber confirmed in the same statement that an agreement had been reached, ending litigation with Mr McKillen. In what one source familiar with the matter described as "conclusive evidence" that the dispute between the parties had been resolved, the Sunday Independent can reveal that the Qataris' acquisition of the Barclay brothers' interest in the hotels proceeded with Mr McKillen's express approval. The source said: "Paddy was happy for the sale to go ahead. He waived his pre-emption rights as a shareholder to let it proceed."

While Mr McKillen's tie-up with the Constellation Hotels Group presents a significant opportunity, his involvement with Claridge's, the Berkeley and the Connaught represents just a fraction of his overall business.

Here, the businessman has interests in the Jervis Shopping Centre, Captain America's restaurant chain and the Irish franchise for Wagamama. He also secured the US clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch and Swedish fashion retailer Cos for buildings he owns on Dublin's College Green and Wicklow Street. Overseas, he owns the 600-acre Chateau La Coste vineyard in Provence in the south of France as well as prime residential and commercial investments in the US, Dubai, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Argentina and Kazakhstan.

Sunday Independent

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