Candy Brothers Win $177 Million Suit Over Belgravia Loan
(Bloomberg) -- Nick and Christian Candy, the brothers behind London’s luxury One Hyde Park apartments, won a 132 million-pound ($177 million) court battle against a former business associate who accused the property developers of blackmail and intimidation.
Mark Holyoake, a former roommate of Nick Candy, accused the brothers of threatening him and his family over a 12 million-pound loan he took from Christian’s company, CPC Group Ltd. to buy and convert an office building in London’s Belgravia neighborhood into luxury homes. He said his claim was worth “at least” 132 million pounds.
But Judge Christopher Nugee, who was critical of all three men, said in a ruling Thursday that “none of Mr. Holyoake’s claims has been made out.”
“None of the protagonists (Mr. Holyoake, Mr. Christian Candy and Mr. Nicholas Candy) emerge from the trial with great credit,” Nugee said in the ruling. “Each has been shown to have been willing to lie when they consider their commercial interests justify them doing so.”
Holyoake said in a statement that he was “in a state of disbelief” at the ruling and intended to seek an appeal urgently.
The lawsuit was widely followed in the British press because of the high profile of the Candy brothers, who have developed buildings in some of London’s toniest districts. The pair gained prominence with the One Hyde Park apartments in Knightsbridge in a joint venture with former Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim. The development, which opened in 2011, secured some of the highest prices ever paid for London residential real estate -- including a penthouse sold for 175 million pounds.
“The judge saw through his lies and dismissed every one of Mr. Holyoake’s claims,” the brothers said in a statement released through CPC Group. “It has taken a great deal of time and effort to win this case and it has caused unwarranted damage to our personal and business lives.”
In his statement, Holyoake continued to defend his lawsuit. In court, his spokesman handed over a document outlining what he said were examples from the judgment of “dishonesty or questionable conduct” on behalf of the defendants.
“Anyone reading today’s judgment will see that there are currently no winners here,” Holyoake said in the statement. “I stand by our allegations and maintain that my own actions were deployed in self protection and wholly justified in the circumstances.”
Christian’s company CPC Group issued the loan after Holyoake approached Nick Candy in July 2011. In November of that year, CPC said Holyoake had breached the terms and demanded its repayment with interest. Holyoake repaid the loan after selling the property once it had gained planning approval but before redevelopment took place. Holyoake had a “substantial loss” on the project, Nugee said.
Christian Candy’s CPC Group settled another high profile U.K. lawsuit in 2010 after a failed deal to redevelop London’s Chelsea Barracks site. CPC accused state-backed developer Qatari Diar of wrongfully backing out of the agreement to avoid upsetting heir to the British throne Prince Charles who had objected to the development’s proposed design. Under the settlement, Candy dissolved his stake in the site, which had been acquired in a joint venture with Qatari Diar for 959 million pounds in 2008, and issued an apology for bringing the Prince of Wales into the case.
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