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02 centre bought by local millionaire 'boys'

PUBLISHED: 12:58 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 07 September 2010

Katie Davies THE new millionaire owners of the Finchley Road O2 Centre have promised the site will only be improved under their care as local north London boys . Matterhorn Capital, a partnership of millionaire property tycoons Anthony Lyons, Simon Conwa

Katie Davies

THE new millionaire owners of the Finchley Road O2 Centre have promised the site will only be improved under their care as "local north London boys".

Matterhorn Capital, a partnership of millionaire property tycoons Anthony Lyons, Simon Conway and stepson of billionaire Sir Philip Green, Brett Palos, say they will take a "hands-on" approach to the shopping centre bought for more than £90million this week.

The acquisition is not, however, the most ambitious of the group's planned conquests after they revealed they are also eying the O2 Millennium Dome and Oxford Street properties.

Speaking exclusively to the Ham&High, Mr Conway said: "We are looking at the O2 in Greenwich for the double O2 centre [purchase] and we are looking at several sites around the country which look a little like the Finchley Road O2. This is just the start for us in terms of the projects we are looking at.

"We are more hands-on because we are our own managed business - we have no board and if we want to make a decision we do.

"We are all local north London boys and it's a place we've been going to since our childhood. I drive past the O2 every day. I remember the Smollensky's Balloon restaurant there before the Chinese and that's long gone now. We understand the location and what people want."

Hundreds of millions are likely to be spent by the trio in the coming months.

Mr Lyons and Mr Conway previously owned the Earls Court and Olympia venue and recently sold 50 per cent of their shares in that.

Mr Lyons, 40, was ranked as 248th in the Sunday Times rich list last year and is said to be worth £355million.

The latest addition to the Conway-Lyons partnership is Brett Palos.

The 33-year-old was listed as 1727th with a wealth of £43million and there are rumours he has called upon the invaluable support of his stepfather, Topshop mogul Sir Philip Green.

The former owners of the O2 centre, X-leisure, put the site up for sale for around £110million last year but sold it for £92.5million to the group.

Mr Conway said regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, little will change at the O2 in the coming months.

He said: "I think we are lucky because the centre has been left in fantastic condition and the recent refurbishment has it looking better than ever.

"We are delighted to own a site of that quality and we are delighted with what's there. We will be looking to see what opportunities there are to improve the experience of customers.

"It's all about customer experience and Antony and I learned that with Earls Court. It is not just about going to the cinema, it is the whole experience from the front door.

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