Barclay twins win London luxury hotel court battle
LONDON (Reuters) - British brothers David and Frederick Barclay have won a legal fight for control of Coroin, which owns three five-star hotels in London, after a court dismissed claims against the twins by one of the firm's shareholders.
Irish property developer Paddy McKillen sued the Barclays in March, kickstarting a five-month trial that roped in a raft of high-profile names including former prime minister Tony Blair and billionaire Hong Kong property tycoon Walter Kwok.
McKillen has a 36.2 percent stake in Coroin, which owns The Berkeley, Claridges, and The Connaught, while the Barclays have a 28.4 percent holding through deals with shareholders.
McKillen said the brothers schemed illegally to bypass his right to buy more Coroin shares from Derek Quinlan to seize control of the firm and also that company directors appointed by the Barclays had breached their duties.
Quinlan still owns his 35.4 percent share following the court's decision. However, the Barclays have effective control over that stake after buying Quinlan's debt last September.
A spokesman for the Barclays said the judgement "vindicated the Barclay interests' position".
A spokeswoman for McKillen said while he "might have lost this battle he was actually in a better position to win the war. The Barclay Brothers have not achieved their stated objective. We still have the right to purchase Quinlan's interest in Maybourne at a later date should it become available".
During the trial, the court heard that Blair gave free advice to McKillen who was trying to buy a majority stake in Coroin and that McKillen had approached Kwok, former chairman of Hong Kong-based developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, as a potential investor.
Coroin was set up in 2004 by McKillen, Quinlan and others using 660 million pounds Irish bank debt to buy the three hotels.
The loans were seized by Ireland's state-run National Asset Management Agency during the country's property crash. Last September, NAMA sold the loans to a Barclay brothers' firm, Maybourne Finance, for more than 800 million euros.
In June, an English court ruled NAMA was free to transfer the loans without restrictions to Maybourne.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Dan Lalor)
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