The Barclay brothers have moved a step closer to gaining full control over three of London's most prestigious hotels after the Court of Appeal ruled in their favour regarding the ownership of loans against the properties.
The court decided that the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) of Ireland were legally entitled to transfer loans of £660m in the Maybourne Hotel Group - which owns Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley - from Belfast-born property developer Patrick McKillen to a company owned by billionaire brothers, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay.
NAMA acquired the debts from the Anglo Irish Bank and the Bank of Ireland in June 2010 and transferred them to the Barclays in September 2011.
McKillen challenged the transfer, saying that NAMA should have consulted with the shareholders of his company, Coroin, before offloading the debt. However, the judges in the Court of the Appeal dismissed an earlier court ruling, arguing that the purpose of NAMA was to dispose of bank assets quickly and efficiently.
This latest twist in the long-running battle to decide the future ownership of Maybourne is part of a wider legal case in the High Court - still to be decided - involving the Barclay brothers' equity stake in the group.
If the brothers, who own the Daily Telegraph and the Spectator magazine, are successful in their bid to seize full control of the hotels, they will monopolise the ownership of the capital's luxury hotel market. They already own the five star Ritz hotel, as well as the four-star Cavendish hotel.
By Janet Harmer
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