London based Maybourne Group which controls 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. 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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