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Investor Who Had £3B-Plus London-Led Empire Files For Bankruptcy

The Royal Courts of Justice in London

Derek Quinlan, the Irish financier who built up a multibillion-pound global property portfolio that included some of London’s most famous hotels, filed for bankruptcy in London Wednesday morning. 

Quinlan said he had been forced to file for bankruptcy in spite of paying back €3.8B (£3.2B) of debt to lenders over the last 15 years, including €3.1B to Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency, the bad bank set up by the Irish government to bail out its beleaguered banking sector in the wake of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. The Currency first reported the bankruptcy.

Quinlan bought assets in London, including the company that owned Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels; the Knightsbridge Estate, a 3.5-acre chunk of Knightsbridge near Harrods; and Citi’s 1M SF London HQ. 

He acquired the latter for £1B in a joint venture with Glenn Maud, with whom he also bought Santander’s Madrid HQ for €2.1B, completing the deal the day after Lehman filed for bankruptcy. 

Entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz and Abu Dhabi fund Aabar bought the personal debt he used to make that purchase in an effort to push him into bankruptcy and take control of the giant campus. 

A statement from Quinlan said that the cost of fighting a legal battle relating to the Santander HQ and an inability to reach a settlement to discharge his full debts with NAMA had led to his filing for bankruptcy, The Currency reported. 

“On the basis that NAMA has declined to settle with me, I have been unable to restart my career and I am therefore unable to pay the enormous legal costs required to defend myself against Robert Tchenguiz’s action,” his statement said.

“Accordingly, I was left with no option but to apply to the court to ask that it exercises its discretion to make a bankruptcy order against me. However, it should be emphasised that I am not acceding to Tchenguiz’s bankruptcy petition and the purported petition debt; and the grounds upon which the petition has been presented remain disputed.”

The Maud/Quinlan joint venture has been particularly ill-starred for its participants. Bisnow revealed Maud had been declared bankrupt in January 2021.