Wednesday 18 October 2017

Long-time friend took Bono along to yacht talks in bid to impress buyer

Bono has been quietly building up a highly prized portfolio of “collectable art” from one of London's most prestigious galleries
Bono has been quietly building up a highly prized portfolio of “collectable art” from one of London's most prestigious galleries
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

NO single moment better encapsulates the rock 'n' roll cachet of Irish property developers at the height of the boom than a meeting involving Bono and a Saudi Prince on a boat moored off the coast of Cannes.

Quinlan and McKillen had planned to off-load the Savoy, the Berkeley and the Connaught hotels in London at a profit in order to repay $1.2bn (€0.9bn) lent by Irish banks to buy the prestigious collection of hotels. This would allow them to own the most prestigious of them all, Claridge's.

The most obvious buyer was billionaire Saudi, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal – one of the world's most high-profile investors – who had come second to the Irish developers in the bidding process for the London hotels.

Al-Waleed has a wealth estimated at around €15bn.

The U2 frontman had been brought along to a meeting by his long-time friend, Paddy McKillen, to impress the prince and help sweeten the deal.

The meeting was referred to in the British courts in the legal case taken by McKillen against the Barclay twins.

In the 'Vanity Fair' interviews, Quinlan told how Bono (pictured) had hailed Prince Al-Waleed as "the Warren Buffett of the Middle East". The title had appealed to the vanity of the prince and he agreed to buy the Savoy for €360m.

In a statement, Quinlan described how the yacht meeting in August 2004 came about due to a dispute over the deposit the prince's company was prepared to pay to buy the Savoy. He said the prince invited him aboard his yacht to finalise the deal.

"Although the deal to sell The Savoy did not complete until January 2005, we had agreement on its terms aboard Prince Al-Waleed's yacht," Quinlan said.

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