Billionaire brothers bankrolling Quinlan, court hears

Two billionaire brothers have been keeping afloat the developer Derek Quinlan, once one of Ireland’s richest men, a British court heard yesterday.

Mr Quinlan was a shareholder of the hotel group at the heart of a row between Daily Telegraph owners David and Frederick Barclay and Belfast-based developer Patrick McKillen. The latter three men were investors in Coroin, which owns three of London’s best known hotels (Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley), the High Court in London was told.

Mr McKillen has sued the Barclays and their companies over “an intense battle for control of Claridge’s and associated hotels,” Mr McKillen’s lawter Philip Marshall said in opening arguments. He claimed the brothers behaved dishonourably and unlawfully in trying to acquire Maybourne Hotels, which owns the Berkeley and Connaught hotels.

The Barclay brothers have denied Mr McKillen’s allegation of “unlawful” behaviour and said his complaints were designed to “embarrass” them.

Yesterday, the court heard claims of alleged payments to Mr Quinlan, who was a shareholder of the hotel group.

Mr Marshall claimed that, beginning in Jan 2011, Mr Quinlan did nothing “contrary to the instruction or wishes of the Barclay brothers”.

In his opening argument, Mr Marshall said Mr Quinlan’s shareholding in the hotel group was transferred to Ellerman Corporation, owned by the Barclays, in Feb 2011.

His argument claimed that the Barclays had “effectively kept Mr Quinlan afloat since Oct 2010: they have assisted in his efforts to stave off bankruptcy, they have discharged debts on his behalf, and they paid for Cork Gully [restructuring specialists] to develop a plan for dealing with Mr Quinlan’s creditors”.

Mr Marshall said the Barclays side claimed the payments were “intended to help family friends in a difficult financial situation”.

Mr Quinlan was one of Ireland’s biggest investors during a property boom which collapsed in 2007. Some of his assets were seized by Nama last April when he failed to agree on a debt repayment plan.

The hotel company is worth over £1bn (€1.2bn), according to Mr McKillen, who owns 36% of it. The Barclays bought €800m of the hotel company’s debt last year from Nama through a holding company called Maybourne Finance Ltd.

Mr McKillen is seeking a court ruling that he has the right to buy the remaining Maybourne shares.

* Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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