Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Ulster hotelier stays mum about hosting the Obamas

A hotel owned by a leading Ulster businessman has picked up a shining endorsement after the American President chose to stay in it.

Sean Quinn, the Co Fermanagh-born billionaire hotelier, played host to Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle at the family-owned Hilton Hotel in Prague.

The flying visit took place recently when the most powerful man in the world was in the Czech Republic for a meeting with a number of European leaders.

But despite the kudos linked to having the US president as a special guest — not to mention global media interest — the 61-year-old entrepreneur opted to keep mum over the honour of having Mr Obama stay under his roof.

Since the Quinn Group bought the Prague Hilton five years ago, the prestigious hotel has attracted several high-profile world leaders — but Obama definitely pulls the biggest punch to date.

Indeed, his brief patronage will no doubt bring a little brightness to the hotel business, given the recession and the speculation surrounding some of the company’s major losses recently.

Quinn’s business empire encompasses hotels, insurance firms, golf courses, cement, radiator makers and overseas properties.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2008 estimated his personal worth to be €4.722bn or £3.73bn.

But the company was dealt a severe blow when the Anglo Irish bank collapsed and it is estimated to have lost £1bn.

President Obama and his wife Michelle took home a more modest combined income of $2.5m last year, tax return forms showed.

In all, the couple made $2,656,902 (£1,773,362) in 2008 — with the majority coming from the sale of the president's books.

It meant they paid $855,323 (£570,867) back in taxes. A further $172,050 (£114,827) was distributed among 37 charities.

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