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 British High Court judge was told yesterday.
The U2 lead singer sat with property developers Patrick McKillen and Derek Quinlan in Cannes as they concluded negotiations for the £230m (€281m) sale of The Savoy to Al-Waleed bin Talal in 2004, Mr Justice David Richards heard.
The judge was hearing evidence in a legal battle between businessmen at the helm of a firm which owns the London hotels.
The judge was told that the 51-year-old star was a friend of one of the businessmen.
Mr McKillen is embroiled in a fight with David Barclay and twin brother Frederick Barclay over the control of Claridge’s, the Connaught, and the Berkeley hotels.
All three were investors in Coroin — which owns the three hotels — Mr Justice David Richards has been told during a High Court trial in London.
Mr McKillen has sued, claiming “company affairs” were conducted in a “manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests”.
The Barclay brothers, who own The Daily Telegraph, deny Mr McKillen’s allegation of “unlawful” behaviour and say his complaints are designed to “embarrass” them and “tarnish” their reputations.
Mr McKillen has told the judge that Mr Quinlan had also been a shareholder and had been regarded as the “face” of Coroin.
Mr Quinlan told the trial yesterday that the Savoy had also been part of the hotel group until shareholders decided to sell it to the prince six years ago. The deal was nearly complete in 2004 but there were disputes, including about the level of deposit the prince would pay, Mr Quinlan said in a written witness statement.
“I was invited by Prince Al-Waleed to come aboard his yacht in the south of France to finalise the deal.
“I asked Mr McKillen if he wanted to come; he agreed and I suggested that Mr McKillen’s very close friend of 20 years, the singer Bono should join us.
“I recall that I sat beside Prince Al-Waleed and Bono sat next to me, Mr McKillen, on the other hand, sat at the other end of the yacht and made no contribution to the discussion. 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.
“Mr McKillen’s role was minimal. Indeed, I would say he was a spectator more than a participant.”
He said Mr McKillen had given the court a version of the story that was “not true”.
“I find the statement... that ‘Mr McKillen concluded that’ the redevelopment costs of The Savoy were prohibitive and that the decision to sell The Savoy was taken by Mr McKillen and the other shareholders acting on his advice, to be amazing,” said Mr Quinlan.
“It is simply not true. The decision was not led by Mr McKillen, but by me.”
The case continues.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section