|By Mark Foxwell, Financial Mail on
Sunday, LondonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 30, 2011--The battle for control of Maybourne Hotel Group, which owns the Berkeley, Claridge's and The Connaught hotels in London, has taken a dramatic turn this weekend with a surprise bid from the Chinese government for the 37 per cent stake in the group.
Although owner Paddy McKillen, one of Ireland's most successful property developers, has said he did not want to sell, he is understood to be evaluating the offer.
The deal could scupper plans by the Barclay brothers, owners of the Ritz in London and Telegraph Media Group, to take a controlling stake in Maybourne after acquiring 25 per cent from the family of British billionaire Peter Green earlier this month.
The Chinese government and Harrods owner Qatar Holdings are furious that a stake was sold without them being informed.
Both had submitted bids of more than UKpound1 billion before Christmas for the whole group, according to sources.
Financial Mail revealed in November that Qatar was in talks to buy Maybourne.
Each party is desperate to gain control of some of the world's best known trophy assets.
Former tax inspector Derek Quinlan, who also owns a third of Maybourne, is understood to be in talks with Qatar, the Chinese and the Barclay brothers about selling his stake.
Maybourne had also been in talks with Northwood Investors, the private equity investor, to sell a UKpound200 million stake, as well as Westbrook Partners, a rival group, in the past year as it sought new equity ahead of a debt refinancing deadline.
To see more of the Financial Mail on Sunday, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to NULL.
Copyright (c) 2011, Financial Mail on Sunday, London
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.