Monday 11 December 2017

Bono witnessed £230m deal to sell Savoy hotel, judge told

Derek Quinlan says relationship with fellow property developer Patrick McKillen soured over debt restructure plan

Bono (R) sat with Patrick McKillen (L) and Derek Quinlan in Cannes as they concluded negotiations for the £230 million sale of The Savoy to Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal in 2004
Bono (R) sat with Patrick McKillen (L) and Derek Quinlan in Cannes as they concluded negotiations for the £230 million sale of The Savoy to Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal in 2004

Shane Hickey in London

Rock star Bono joined two businessmen and a billionaire Saudi prince on a yacht in the south of France as a multimillion-pound deal to sell one of the world's most famous hotels was finalised, a London High Court judge was told yesterday.

The U2 star sat with property developers Patrick McKillen and Derek Quinlan in Cannes as they concluded negotiations for the £230m (€280m) sale of The Savoy to Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal in 2004, Mr Justice David Richards heard.

Details of Bono's presence at the meeting emerged as the judge heard evidence in a legal battle between businessmen at the helm of a firm which owns London hotels.

Mr McKillen is suing the Barclay brothers over their attempt to take over Coroin, the company which runs the hotels, and claims Mr Quinlan's share sold by NAMA to the Barclays should have been offered to him instead under a clause in the shareholders' agreement of the firm.


The court has previously heard how the Barclays have given financial support to Mr Quinlan, claiming it was to help a friend out in a time of need. Mr McKillen has claimed he acted on their behalf to the detriment of the company.

Mr Quinlan has claimed a controversial decision to sell his shares in three prestigious London hotels to the Barclay brothers had nothing to do with the fact that they were funding his millionaire lifestyle.

"Although I was naturally well-disposed towards the Barclay brothers because of their generosity to my family, at no point did my relationship with them lead me to take a decision which I thought was anything other than in the best interests of the company," a witness statement from Mr Quinlan said.

Mr Quinlan claims that the sale of a site of land, worth £10m (€12.23m) in Chelsea for £1 to Frederick Barclay in 2005 for a special needs school confirmed a close friendship between he and the brothers.

During the summer of 2010, when his financial position was "precarious", Mr Quinlan said he met the brothers regularly for coffee in the Cafe de Paris in Monaco where he was offered financial help and they would discuss the future of Coroin.

"These were in no way detailed or purposeful discussions. We were basically shooting the breeze over a cup of coffee and a cigar," he said.

The court was told that Bono was a friend of Mr McKillen. Mr Quinlan said in December 2004 Mr McKillen had approached him about investing in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin -- which was owned by members of U2 and a "prominent promoter" called Harry Crosbie.

"Mr Crosbie and two of the band members, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton, wanted to exit so Bono and the fourth band member, The Edge (real name David Evans), were seeking investment from Mr McKillen, who is their close friend," said Mr Quinlan, in the statement.

"Mr McKillen invited me to co-invest with him and invited me to lunch at the Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin on December 15, 2004.

"After we had sat down, Bono and his wife Ali arrived to join us. We agreed that each of us (Mr McKillen, Bono, The Edge and I) would take a 25pc interest in the Clarence."

Mr Quinlan said in 2009, he was under "huge" financial "pressures" and met Mr McKillen, Bono and The Edge to discuss his investment in the Clarence.

He said after that meeting his relationship with Mr McKillen "deteriorated". Mr Quinlan said a plan to restructure the hotel's debt was proposed, but documentation was "heavily lawyered", and he thought that the deal would have left him at a disadvantage.

"I took this to be a tremendous insult from Mr McKillen -- he was trying to oppress me and he must have assumed that I would not properly read the documentation and understand its import," said Mr Quinlan.

"I do not believe Bono or The Edge were behind this -- this was Mr McKillen's doing.

"I did not sign. From this point on, my relationship with Mr McKillen deteriorated, and he took a series of steps which were designed to embarrass me and exclude me from the decision-making process."

"In his statement, Mr Quinlan claims he worked "tirelessly" to find the best deal for his stake.

The case, with further evidence from Mr Quinlan, is expected to continue today in London.

Irish Independent

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