Friday 22 November 2019

McKillen vows he'll fight on despite appeal rejection blow

Paddy McKillen outside the London High Court last year
Paddy McKillen outside the London High Court last year
Derek Quinlan

Shane Hickey in London

PROPERTY developer Paddy McKillen has raised the possibility of further legal action against the billionaire Barclay brothers following another defeat in the English courts over the future of three top London hotels.

The Court of Appeal in London yesterday dismissed an appeal by the Belfast-born businessman over the control of Coroin, the €1.2bn company which owns Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels.

The defeat marks the closure of the latest chapter in the battle for the hotels between Mr McKillen and David and Frederick Barclay, the owners of the Ritz hotel and the Telegraph newspaper group.

The High Court in London last August ruled against Mr McKillen when he claimed financier Derek Quinlan and the Barclays breached clauses in the shareholders' agreement.

Mr Quinlan's 35.5pc share of Coroin is in the control of the Barclays after the brothers secured the shareholding from NAMA in 2011. Mr McKillen holds 36.2pc of the company.

Mr McKillen claimed the share should have been offered to him under a clause in the shareholders' agreement of the company – a pre-emption agreement – but Judge David Richards last year said there had been no agreements made between the Barclays and Mr Quinlan which breached the pre-emption provisions.

In the judgment released yesterday morning, Lady Justice Mary Arden said the pre-emption provisions in the shareholders' agreement had not been breached and dismissed the appeal.

The result was welcomed by the Barclay side which said it proved the brothers and their interests had acted lawfully in the face of repeated litigation over the ownership of the hotels.

"This is a complete and total defeat for Mr McKillen. He has had numerous judgments against him in this case and has lost every major point on which he has appealed," Richard Faber, a senior figure within the Barclay organisation, said.

Mr McKillen said he was "disappointed" by the ruling but claimed the board of the company was legally bound to offer Mr Quinlan's shareholding for sale which would lead him to be in control of Coroin. "I will continue to fight the Barclay brothers by any legal means to protect our staff, guests and our rights" Mr McKillen said.

Costs were awarded against Mr McKillen – less one-fifth of the Court of Appeal bill – meaning that after the two court hearings, he will face a total bill of approximately £25m (€30m). He was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court

Mr Quinlan said the case had been an "expensive and unnecessary distraction" and that he would now to focus on reducing his debts.

Irish Independent

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