Wednesday 26 November 2014

Quinlan hits back at McKillen over claims of unfair conduct

Shane Hickey London

Published 08/02/2013 | 04:00

Derek Quinlan with his wife Siobhan leaving an earlier hearing of the case in the Rolls Building at the Royal Courts of Justice in Holborn, central London

FINANCIER Derek Quinlan has claimed attempts by businessman Paddy McKillen to question his conduct in a contentious legal battle over three high-profile London hotels are unfounded and unfair.

Mr Quinlan has rejected allegations that he acted unfairly against the Belfast-born businessman during the ownership battle for Coroin, the €1.2bn company which owns Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels.

The hearing of a three-day appeal, launched by Mr McKillen in the Court of Appeal, ended yesterday.

The appeal came following a High Court judgment which went against him last year surrounding allegations that Mr Quinlan and the billionaire Barclay brothers had breached shareholders' agreements in the company.

Mr Quinlan's 35.5pc share of the company is in the control of David and Frederick Barclay – giving them control of the company – after they secured the shareholding from NAMA in 2011.

Mr McKillen, who owns 36.2pc, claimed the share should have been offered to him under a clause in the shareholders' agreement of the company, known as a pre-emption agreement. But Judge David Richards said there had been no agreements made between the Barclays and Mr Quinlan which breached the clause.

The brothers, who own 28.36pc, say the pre-emption agreement did not kick in because when the agreements were made between them and Mr Quinlan, there was no transfer of a beneficial interest in the shares – meaning they don't stand to profit from the shares.

Submission

In a written submission to the Court of Appeal, Mr Quinlan's lawyers say Mr McKillen's case is based on allegations of impropriety and bad faith in dealings between their client and the Barclay brothers.

"Mr McKillen's constant attempts to imbue the conduct of Mr Quinlan and others with sinister motives are as unfounded as they are unfair," said the submission.

Calling for the appeal to be dismissed, the Quinlan side said that he sought to protect the pre-emption rights which have been at the centre of the legal case.

There was lengthy legal argument in court yesterday during which counsel for Mr Quinlan, Stephen Auld, outlined its side before Lord Goldsmith, for Mr McKillen, finished.

The McKillen side claims there was a concerted effort on the Barclay side to avoid pre-emption provisions.

Mr Quinlan's lawyers say that he has sold €2bn worth of assets to reduce his debts.

Lady Justice Arden reserved judgment in the case to a later date.

Irish Independent

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