Maybourne Hotel Group: McKillen pledges to consider appeal of court verdict in favour of Barclay brothers

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Savoy hotel

The court case surrounding the battle for control of the Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns Claridge's, ended this week with the Barclay brothers securing victory over a claim made by Patrick McKillen
The court case surrounding the battle for control of the Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns Claridge's, ended this week with the Barclay brothers securing victory over a claim made by Patrick McKillen
Patrick McKillen has said he is considering appealing against last week's court verdict which ruled in favour of the Barclay brothers after he filed a case challenging the legality of the brothers' attempted takeover of Maybourne Hotel Group. 

On Friday Mr Justice David Richards delivered his judgement in the case that McKillen had brought against various interests of the Barclay brothers which centred on the control of Coroin - the parent company of Maybourne Hotel Group, operator of Claridge's, The Connaught and The Berkeley. 

The High Court ruled that the twin brothers, who also own The Ritz London and various newspapers and magazines, had not acted unlawfully or unfairly to McKillen in their attempts to gain total control of the company and the hotels.

Control

As one of the founders of Coroin in 2004, which was set-up to acquire the hotels, McKillen owns a 32.7 per cent share in the business.

Through one of their companies, the Barclay brothers own a 28.36 per cent share with the remainder held by another of the founders, Derek Quinlan, who has experienced severe financial difficulties. 

The ruling also reiterated previous court decisions that the purchase of the original share and an acquisition of £660m of the company's bank debt, which was bought from the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), was also valid. 

McKillen had suggested the brothers' actions had gone against an agreement made when the company was founded that allowed him 'pre-emption rights' to purchase shares in the company first.

Tarnish​ 

While a spokesman for the twins declared the result brought the dispute to an end, vindicated their actions and suggested McKillen may now face legal costs, the Irish property developer has said he is considering an appeal.

Richard Faber, speaking on behalf of the Barclay brothers, said: "The Judge has looked in detail at every aspect of Mr McKillen's case, and has found it to be without any merit."

"It should never have been necessary for the Barclay interests to defend these baseless proceedings, which we always believed were an attempt by Mr McKillen to tarnish the Barclay interests' reputation in the misconceived hope that they would then sell out to him," he added.

Finest hotels

However a spokesman for McKillen said the developer remained committed to stopping the Barclay brothers from gaining control by purchasing Quinlan's share if it becomes available.

"We brought this case to the High Court to protect our interest in the finest hotels in London. Whilst we are disappointed with the Judgment, we still have and intend to continue to have the largest shareholding in Maybourne and are happy that our pre-emption rights are rock solid."

"The Barclay Brothers have not achieved their stated objective and retain only a 28 per cent interest in Maybourne. Mr Quinlan holds 35 per cent, with Mr McKillen still holding the largest shareholding. We still have the right to purchase Mr Quinlan's interest in Maybourne at a later date should it become available, which is a victory for us," he concluded.

However in the latest court ruling the judge questioned whether, in 2011, McKillen had actually had the ability to buy a further 20 per cent stake in the business.

As well as the result of a possible appeal and the assignment of any legal costs, the control of the company remains complex and in doubt while refinancing of the business to tackle its high level of debt is also a possibility.

Maybourne Hotel Group Timeline:

  • 2004 - Coroin founded by a consortium of investors to acquire The Savoy Group of hotels including The Savoy, Claridge's, the Connaught and The Berkeley
  • 2005 - The Savoy hotel sold and the group is renamed Maybourne Hotel Group
  • 2005-2011 - Shareholders in Maybourne Hotel Group gradually fall to just McKillen (36.2 per cent) and Quinlan (35.4 per cent plus Misland, an off-shore company)
  • January 2011 - The Barclay brothers purchase Misland giving them a stake in the group
  • 2011 - The Barclay brothers purchase Quinlan's debts and those of the group from NAMA
  • February 2012 - The High Court confirms the purchase of Misland was legal
  • June 2012 - The High Court rules the acquistion of debt was also valid
  • August 2012 - The High Court dismisses claims made by McKillen that the Barclay brothers acted unlawfully in their attempts to control the group
  • August 2012 - McKillen considers an appeal and says he remains committed to stopping the brothers from gaining control of the group and the hotels

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