Qatar eyes stake in three luxury London hotels

Emir caught up in a wrangle over Claridge’s, Berkeley and Connaught hotels
Qatar eyes stake in three luxury London hotels
Revelation is part of a legal battle between Irish developer Paddy McKillen and British businessmen Sir David and Frederick Barclay
By Shane McGinley
Thu 22 Mar 2012 10:52 AM

London’s Claridge’s, Berkeley and
Connaught hotels could become Qatar’s latest trophy assets in the British
capital after it was revealed an investment firm controlled by the Qatari emir
has offered to buy a stake in the hotels’ parent company, it was reported on
Thursday.

The revelation was part of a legal battle between Irish developer Paddy McKillen and British
businessmen Sir David and Frederick Barclay, partners in Coroin, the parent
company that owns the three iconic London hotels.

McKillen alleges that the Barclay
brother acquired their 64 percent in Coroin unlawfully from previous owner,
Irish financier Derek Quinlan, as the company’s terms and conditions state it
is compulsory for a shareholder selling their stake to offer it to an existing
investor first.

The court heard McKillen claimed
he had secured a “legal and binding” deal with Al Mirqab, an investment company
controlled by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to finance the
return of the stake which the Barclay’s bought from Quinlan.

McKillen told the court the deal
he had struck with Al Mirqab would see the Qatari firm gain a 50 percent stake
in Coroin and he would be retained as a project manager to oversee the
development and running of the three hotels.

“This agreement was put forward
as a legal and binding document to provide funding for the purchase of the
shares,” Justice David Richards was quoted as telling the court in a report by
the Dublin-based Irish Times newspaper.

“This agreement states they would
provide the funds should the company have success at trial or a settlement is
reached outside court where the option is available,” he added.

The court heard McKillen had
tried to secure a Qatari deal to purchase the stake in early 2011 but this had
fallen through.

The case continues, but should
the deal be successful they will be the latest trophy assets Qatar has secured
in the British capital. The Gulf State already owns a host of London
properties, including the Harrods department store, The Shard skyscraper
and Chelsea Barracks.

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