Sunday 18 February 2018

McKillen could not afford hotel shares, court hears

Shane Hickey in London

DEVELOPER Paddy McKillen would have been "wholly unable" to buy up shares in a company which runs three London hotels at the centre of a contentious ownership battle, a court has been told.

The Irish businessman's legal challenge against the Barclay brothers over Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley has been attacked by legal representatives of the billionaire pair and their associates.

Yesterday was the third day of closing arguments in the case, in which Mr McKillen is suing the brothers over their bid to take over Coroin, the company which runs the hotels.

Mr McKillen claims that shares owned by financier Derek Quinlan, which were sold by NAMA to the Barclays last year, should have been offered to him under the terms of the shareholders' agreement.

However, Kenneth MacLean, counsel for a number of Barclay companies, told the High Court in London that Mr McKillen would have been unable to buy them at that time.

"Mr McKillen's boast -- effectively that he could have achieved such funding, whether from so-called friends or third parties -- is entirely hollow bombast," he said.

Mr McKillen subsequently organised a deal with a Qatari syndicate to fund the refinancing of the hotel group, should he win the current court challenge.

He argues that he does not have to prove he had the financial backing to buy shares in the three London hotels and that it is enough to show he was not offered the shares in order to prove that he suffered "unfair prejudice".

Backing

Mr MacLean said Mr McKillen's evidence to the court was unsatisfactory and that he had an "unjustified antipathy" towards David and Frederick Barclay.

Lord Grabiner, for the Barclay brothers, said Mr McKillen had "bad-mouthed" his clients.

Mr McKillen's lawyers have argued that the failure of the two brothers to testify in court should count against them when judgment is being considered.

Lord Grabiner said that David Barclay had a "perfectly good reason" for not attending as he had a medical condition and had no reason to be there.

Meanwhile, his brother Frederick had no reason to be in court as he had limited involvement in the affairs of Coroin.

Mr McKillen told the court that he had deleted hundreds of texts from his phone amid claims that he was being hacked by Barclay associates. But he denied that this had anything to do with a proposed refinancing deal.

Lord Grabiner described the explanation as "pathetic" and said there was no basis for the hacking allegations.

The case continues today.

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