THE Irish takeover of the top end of the British property market is continuing with a group of Irish investors involved in a ?1.2bn bidding war with a Saudi Arabian prince for control of some of London's leading hotels.

The Sunday Tribune has confirmed that an Irish investment group, put together by Derek Quinlan, the secretive former Revenue official who now advises the rich and famous in Ireland, is seeking to buy the Savoy hotel group.

The portfolio includes London landmarks such as the Savoy Hotel as well as Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley.

Quinlan has previously put together the consortium of investors which owns the Four Seasons hotels in Dublin, Milan, Prague and Budapest.

The Quinlan group's main rival for the Savoy, the billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed, also has links to the Four Seasons, owning a 23% stake in the Canadian hotel operator which is expected to secure a contract to run at least one of the Savoy properties after the sale.

Quinlan is a former tax inspector who left the revenue 15 years ago to establish an advisory service to high-net worth individuals in Ireland.

Some of those he is believed to have advised on tax affairs and investment include former attorney general and chairman of AIB, Dermot Gleeson, as well as Fidelma Macken, a judge on the European Court of Justice.

During his 15 years as an adviser to the wealthy, Quinlan is believed to have masterminded around 140 deals involving Irish consortiums.

These have included the ?33m purchase of the DKNY building in London's Old Bond Street in 2002.

The bid for the Savoy comes shortly after another group of Irish investors headed by Garret Kelleher bought the famous Lloyd's building in London.