<em><strong>Adds Ellerman comment in final par</strong></em>
Sir Frederick Barclay, the billionaire co-owner of the London Ritz Hotel, says he has received competing bids to buy it for more than £1 billion.
Sir Frederick, who bought the London landmark with his twin brother Sir David in 1995, also said any move to sell the establishment for “below the proper value would give rise to further litigation”.
His statement comes after a court heard details last week about disputes within the family over the direction of the Barclays’ business empire amid allegations that Sir Frederick was secretly recorded for several months after his nephew bugged the conservatory of the hotel.
I can disclose that there have been a number of competing offers for this first class hotel in excess of £1 billionSir Frederick Barclay
In his statement, Sir Frederick said: “I take great pride in the Ritz Hotel and its success ever since I personally wrote a £7.5 million cheque as down payment in 1995. There are 450 employees at the hotel who do a fantastic job.
“I can disclose that there have been a number of competing offers for this first class hotel in excess of £1 billion.
“I have no doubt that such offers will be considered so that the Ritz is sold at the right time and for a proper price.
“There is no place for any sale at less than full value. A sale below the proper value would give rise to further litigation. This would be regrettable.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened about recent events involving unethical conduct and intrusion into my privacy.
“I hope we can get these family matters resolved so that we can all move on.”
The statement comes after media reports that bids were at around £700 million, less than the family had hoped for.
The High Court heard last week that the 85-year-old businessman and his daughter Amanda claim that Sir David’s three sons, Alistair, Aidan and Howard, and Aidan’s son Andrew, were parties to the recording of their private conversations over several months.
Sir Frederick and Amanda Barclay brought a legal action alleging misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of data protection laws against their four relatives, and Philip Peters, who “holds a board position” in the Barclay group of businesses.
Desmond Browne QC, representing Sir Frederick and Amanda Barclay, asked the court to make an interim non-disclosure order, preventing the defendants from disclosing the recordings.
Heather Rogers QC, representing all five defendants, said there no need to make an interim non-disclosure order.
She told the court there was “a lot of information that would have been in the possession of my clients … which they have got completely free of the recordings”.
She added that her clients had “ample opportunity” to “spread it about before an injunction” was granted, but there was “no evidence of dissemination”.
Giving a short ruling dismissing the application for a non-disclosure order, Mr Justice Warby said the claim “stems from the falling-out between elements of the families of Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay”.
He said that “substantial parts of the business enterprises” the twins had built up – which include interests in the Ritz and the publisher of the Daily Telegraph – “are now owned by trusts, beneficiaries of which include” Amanda, Alistair, Aidan and Howard Barclay.
The judge added that the “vexed litigation” arose “over the governance and direction of the group businesses”.
Mr Justice Warby declined to make the order sought, ruling that “there was no intention and no evidence of any intention” to disclose the recordings.
A spokesperson for Ellerman Investments, the company behind the Barclay family’s assets, said: “Neither Sir Frederick nor Amanda Barclay have any relevant legal interest which would allow them to disrupt the sale process of The Ritz Hotel, London. The process is being independently and professionally run, and continues to progress well. We remain focused on achieving the best value for all shareholders.”