Belfast Telegraph

Media barons seal hotel debts deal

British media barons the Barclay brothers have sealed an 800 million euro deal to take control of debts built up by Irish investors who bought three of London's top hotels.

Sir David and Sir Frederick, owners of UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, secured the sale of loans which were originally used to fund the purchase of Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley in 2005.

The sale, confirmed by bad-bank, the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), was finalised as the agency ramps up efforts to clear toxic debts from the country's banks.

The Barclays already owned 63.8% of the Maybourne Hotel Group through a company called Coroin. Belfast-born property investor Paddy McKillen owns the remainder of the luxurious Mayfair and Hyde Park hotels.

Nama billed the sale as good for the taxpayer who has funded the clearout of failing development and property-linked loans from crippled banks.

It said: "The loans were sold for in excess of 800 million euro with Nama recovering 100% of the original value of the loans plus interest."

A spokesman for the Barclays declined to comment on the sale or the prospect of buying out Mr McKillen's stake.

The Barclays built up their stake in Coroin in several deals over the last months and now retain control of the board and the day-to-day running of the prestigious hotel group.

Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley had been bought six years ago under the Maybourne Hotel Group, headed by taxman-turned-financier Derek Quinlan, who now lives in Switzerland. The Maybourne Hotel Group declined to comment on the sale.

Nama has acquired more than 70 billion euro of loans from Irish banks since it began clearing toxic and performing property debts off the books of Irish banks. It plans to sell a quarter of its loan book over the next two years.

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