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You can rent denis o’brien’s superyacht - for a price.

The latest issue of Boat International – “the global authority in superyachting” – has a report from on board Nero, Denis O’Brien’s vessel, the one that keeled over while being repaired in Genoa in 2019. “On a bright day... [Short citation of 8% of the original article]

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Denis O'Brien

How Denis O'Brien made his fortune

Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien made his fortune in telecoms in the mid-1990s but his career has latterly been defined by his opposition to and confrontation with his business rival Sir Anthony O'Reilly .

O'Brien is one of Ireland's leading business people and he has worked with most of the others - from serial entrepreneur and former London City Airport owner Dermot Desmond to Ryanair founder Tony Ryan and packaging magnate Michael Smurfit.

But it is the one he has never collaborated with, Tony O'Reilly, whom he seriously annoyed by amassing a threatening stake in O'Reilly's prized asset, Independent News and Media, the owner of the Independent.

O'Brien first locked horns with O'Reilly, who announced today he was giving up his post as INM chief executive and is one of the most high profile and richest businessmen in Ireland, in 1995 when both bid for Ireland's second mobile phone licence. With the backing of international investors the young upstart's Esat emerged as the victor.

Those were friendly times and O'Reilly responded by writing to the young entrepreneur to offer his congratulations. The billionaire owner of the Independent reminded him he had known O'Brien's father, a champion high diver, telling him he was a credit to his father .

History does not record O'Brien's response but the course of the next decade saw the relationship sour as O'Brien sought to take increasing bites out of the older man's empire.

According to Forbes, O'Brien replaced O'Reilly as Ireland's third richest person last year. . The 50-year-old O'Brien, who is married with four children, is now worth $2.2bn (£1.56bn) .

However, he told the Guardian last year that it was rubbish that his attack on INM was about personality and not business or that he loathed the O'Reilly family.

The son of a veterinary supplier, O'Brien built himself up in business. Born in Dublin, his early school career showed little promise but after studying history and politics at University College, Dublin, he went on to an MBA course at Boston College and a career in Irish radio, but it was his dramatic Esat mobile licence victory in 1995 that made him.

O'Brien went on to float Esat, walking away with more than £300m by selling it to British Telecom while retaining a 30% stake.

He now runs a highly successful mobile telephone business in the Caribbean, Digicel, and also has radio interests in Ireland and across Europe , but he came in for heavy criticism for moving to Portugal to avoid paying capital gains tax. He is since believed to have set up home in Malta.

Spats with the press have coloured his history.An investigation by Irish papers into the circumstances in which Esat was originally awarded its licence angered him, and in 2006 he won the highest libel award in Irish history after suing the Daily Mirror for articles published in its Irish editions in 1998 which falsely alleged he had paid £30,000 to a minister to secure a radio broadcasting licence.

Acrimony between O'Brien and O'Reilly grew with round two of their telecoms dispute, over the sell-off of Ireland's national telephone network, Eircom, in 2001. Both men chased the company but in the end the older man snatched it from his rival's grasp.

The relationship deteriorated further when O'Brien criticised the treatment he said he received at the hands of INM's newspapers. In a 2003 interview he claimed the group's titles had made "outrageous allegations against me and my company" and dubbed O'Reilly's portfolio a "ragbag of investments".

In January, 2006, O'Brien staged a raid on INM, spending £40m on 22 million shares in the group - enough to give him about 5%.

In May 2007, O'Brien increased his stake in INM to about 8%, having invested about £150m. He claimed the investment was a private one being managed by his advisers but his behaviour seemed unlike that of of a low-key shareholder.

It emerged that O'Brien had written to members of the INM board putting forward 42 questions, ranging from queries over O'Reilly's use of the company jet to donations to universities in the O'Reilly name.

Then a report on INM's corporate governance surfaced. Commissioned by O'Brien and written by Dr Stephen Davis of Yale School of Management, it spoke of a "crony" board and pointed to a lack of independent directors. O'Reilly reacted furiously, threatening to sue for libel.

In August, O'Brien said he had raised his stake to 9%. The purchase spurred a flurry of activity that saw him increase his share to 14.5% by the end of the year, before raising it again to 16.4% in January 2008, making him the second biggest shareholder behind O'Reilly.

By May this had risen to 25%, giving him the power to block special resolutions made by the board, which had earlier branded him a "dissident shareholder" .

Last year, sources close to O'Brien told the Observer that he planned to buy INM and then sell the London-based Independent paper within months , but he lacked support from other shareholders and the board.

Reports in the Irish media just before Christmas suggested a thawing of relations between O'Brien and the O'Reilly clan with reports of the "dissident shareholder" visiting the publisher's Dublin headquarters to meet executives for the first time.

To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email [email protected] or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000.

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Irish Media, Fearing Lawsuits, Steers Clear of a Billionaire

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By Stephen Castle and Douglas Dalby

  • May 29, 2015

LONDON — When the financial crash hit in 2008, it plunged Ireland into a crippling recession from which it has only recently stirred. But the toxic legacy of those years has not gone away, and now it has provoked another crisis, this time over media freedom.

A clash between one of Ireland’s richest and best-known businessmen, Denis O’Brien, and the national broadcasting company, RTE, has reopened wounds from the crash, raising questions about conflicts of interest at the top of Irish society, and about constraints on the country’s media.

At stake is whether journalists should report disputed allegations about some of the past financial dealings of Mr. O’Brien, a billionaire who amassed a fortune in the cellphone sector and has extensive media interests.

The issue peaked on Thursday when an Irish lawmaker, Catherine Murphy, made claims in the Irish Parliament, the Dail, about relations between Mr. O’Brien and a publicly run financial institution.

Such speeches are normally covered by parliamentary privilege and can therefore be published and reported on without risk of a libel suit. Not this time. While Ms. Murphy’s comments were made public on Parliament’s website, the Irish media largely avoided repeating them .

That was because Mr. O’Brien’s lawyers argued that they were covered by an earlier injunction taken out to prevent RTE from reporting Mr. O’Brien’s relationship with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, a body now being wound down, which replaced Anglo Irish Bank after it failed during the crash.

To some politicians the battle represents a challenge to basic Constitutional freedoms, and Micheal Martin, the leader of the opposition Fianna Fail party, called for Parliament to be recalled next week to debate the matter.

“It is unprecedented that a matter of serious public interest raised in the Dail cannot be aired or reported on by the national broadcaster and other media outlets,” Mr. Martin said in a statement on Friday.

“This sets an extremely dangerous precedent,” he added. “The Constitution gives a clear role to the Dail in terms of freedom of speech and privilege. The silencing of the national broadcaster and other media outlets in relation to Dail business is a grave development and it must be addressed without delay.”

In an interview with RTE, Mr. O’Brien’s spokesman, James Morrissey, rejected the claims. “I think that Dail privilege most certainly has a very, very important role in our society and in our democracy,” he said.

“But I don’t think it should be allowed be used, or abused, where falsehoods are represented or misrepresented as facts, as has happened in the Dail in the last 24 hours.”

Mr. O’Brien is arguably the biggest player in Ireland’s media landscape, and his Independent News & Media group controls the Irish Independent as well as the Irish Daily Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday World, Dublin’s Evening Herald and regional newspapers.

According to Eoin O’Dell, associate professor of law at Trinity College Dublin, there was legally nothing to prevent Irish media from reporting the allegations made in Parliament.

But the situation may look different, he said, if litigation is threatened and “if you are a legal adviser to a media company staring down the barrel of a possible half-million-euro losses.”

“It requires media outlets to stand up and be counted,” Mr. O’Dell said. Because RTE still has legal action pending on the issue, he said, “it has done that, and I would like to see others do that too.”

The discussion is important to the wider public because Irish taxpayers ended up paying a heavy price for the country’s decision to bail out the banks, which had lent heavily during a property bubble that burst.

Ireland eventually received an international bailout of €67.5 billion, about $89 billion at the time, which left taxpayers picking up the tab for the banks.

In her speech in Parliament, Ms. Murphy claimed that Mr. O’Brien effectively received a big subsidy thanks to favorable terms provided by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which was publicly run at the time.

“I understand that Mr. O’Brien was enjoying a rate of approximately 1.25 percent when IBRC could, and arguably should, have been charging 7.5 percent,” she said.

“Given that we are talking about outstanding sums of upwards of €500 million, the interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest,” Ms. Murphy said.

Such allegations speak to a suspicion in Ireland that a small and closely knit financial elite had operated informal networks well away from public view.

Yet in his RTE interview, Mr. Morrissey challenged the critics of Mr. O’Brien, asking, “Would you like to see your banking matters being published in a newspaper? I wouldn’t. And I think the vast majority of people wouldn’t.

“If there is wrongdoing involved — let that be examined and investigated,” he continued. “But until such, as there’s a view that there is wrongdoing involved, then a person is entitled to their good reputation,” he said.

Ireland’s National Union of Journalists argued that other principles were at stake.

Constraints on the media raised “fundamental questions about our parliamentary democracy and the right of the media to report freely on parliamentary proceedings,” said its secretary general, Seamus Dooley, in a statement .

“Faith in the media’s ability to do its job will be shattered if this challenge is not faced head-on,” he said, describing it as “a defining moment for the media in Ireland.”

Stephen Castle reported from London, and Douglas Dalby from Dublin.

Proving the case against Denis O’Brien

No one gets the kind of success our denis the menace has achieved in the capitalist world by being an angel..

No one gets the kind of success our Denis the Menace has achieved in the capitalist world by being an angel.

You remember the cartoon strip Dennis the Menace about the puckish little chap who was always getting into trouble? Well, there's something of the same quality about Ireland's richest man, Denis O'Brien, who is a multi-billionaire and our most powerful businessman. Trouble seems to follow him around like Dennis the Menace's dog.

Our Denis has always been a controversial figure. So it's no surprise that last week's announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) seemed to revolve around him and whatever deals he might have gotten.

He's only one of a number of people who had dealings with IBRC, the entity which was set up to take over and work out the financial mess in Anglo Irish Bank, the institution which led the property madness and played a major part in bringing down the Irish economy. But, fairly or unfairly, O’Brien’s involvement has made it a front page story here for weeks now.

Part of the reason for this was his decision to go to the High Court to get an injunction to stop details of his financial dealings with IBRC being reported in the media. These details, which O'Brien claims are inaccurate, were divulged in the Dail (Parliament) under privilege. He said that, like anyone else, he is entitled to privacy about his banking affairs.

The court decided in his favor, so we had the extraordinary situation that a statement made in our national parliament could not be reported, a situation which caused a furor in the media. (Well, at least in the parts of the Irish media that O’Brien does not own – and he owns or controls a lot of it.)

The other reason it became such an incendiary issue among the public here was that it involved Siteserv, the company that is now installing the hated water meters all over Ireland. Siteserv, which owed a fortune to Anglo and was at the time effectively bust, was sold by IBRC to an O'Brien company at a €119 million loss.

The purpose of setting up IBRC was to sell off the assets behind bad loans and extract as much value as possible from all the bad loans that Anglo had on its books and which cost the Irish taxpayer some €25 billion. The question was, had the deal given to O'Brien been at the expense of the Irish taxpayer? Was it too generous?

In the Dail it was also claimed that O'Brien had some €500 million in overall borrowings from Anglo, and that he had bullied IBRC into giving him a lengthy extension on repaying parts of this and an interest rate that was as low as 1.5 percent. Again the question was whether this was fair to the Irish state and taxpayer or had Denis got a very sweet deal indeed.

After trying to ignore the growing controversy for weeks and side-stepping Dail questions on the matter, the government finally gave in to public pressure last week and announced the Commission of Inquiry, led by a former High Court judge, into the performance of IBRC. The reason was simple. The issue was refusing to go away and could have become a big problem in the run-up to the next election which is now less than a year away.

Putting it before a commission makes it sub judice, which stops all public debate on the matter). Despite being given a December deadline, the commission is most unlikely to report before the election, given the volume and complexity of the material it has to examine (all transactions where there was a cumulative loss of over €10 million). So the delay will solve the government's electoral problem.

Not everyone else is going to be as happy about this as the government. There is widespread public unhappiness about the matter, not least because it feeds off the anger most people here have about the cost of the financial crash being dumped on them, and the suspicion that some powerful people did rather well out of the collapse.

To be fair to the executives who ran IBRC over the past few years, they were given a gigantic financial mess to sort out, a task that would have challenged anyone. Anglo had close to €30 billion in losses. And IBRC was told to get on with it, sort out the mess by writing down debts and selling assets as quickly as possible, maximize the return, and then wind up IBRC altogether. Which is exactly what they did.

The two senior people in the firing line are former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes, once a Fine Gael leader and minister for finance, and former IBRC chief executive Mike Aynsley, an international banker with a lot of experience in sorting out distressed financial institutions. Both men have vehemently denied that they did anything less than the job they were asked to do, within the timeframe they were given.

They do not deny that this meant negotiating with clients and doing deals, and they acknowledge that this meant offering different terms to different borrowers, depending on the quality of assets, whether loans were performing, etc.

In the case of O'Brien, his loans were performing and the tensions that arose were over term lengths and rates. The aim, they said, was to get O'Brien to clear all his debts, which he did.

Much of the controversy here in the past couple of weeks has been over the revelation that senior people in the Department of Finance had been very unhappy with how IBRC was doing its job. Finance Minister Michael Noonan failed to inform the Dail about this in the past few weeks, and there were suggestions that the relevant files had been lost in the department, only to be found again later.

According to Aynsley, the department staff who were demanding meetings with IBRC were out of their depth. None of them had experience in banking resolution work and, besides, IBRC was supposed to be independent to keep its work at arm's length from politicians.

It's hard not to be sympathetic with Aynsley's frustration. This is the Department of Finance, after all, where the top boyos allowed the country to walk into financial disaster and there was not a peep out of them. There is more than a suspicion that the department was trying to retrospectively make up for past failings.

Of course all of this is now water under the bridge. Or to put it another way, it's yet another Irish example of trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It's what we do here in Ireland. We retrospectively beat ourselves up over previous decisions and actions, setting up tribunals and commissions of inquiry which drag on for months and years, making a lot of lawyers and accountants very rich indeed, before telling us more or less what we knew all along.

The fact is the billions are gone and they ain't coming back.

It's likely that not all of the deals that IBRC struck with its failed borrowers were perfect. But then we don't live in the perfect world inhabited by the lawyers at tribunals and commissions, and the context a few years ago, before our economic recovery started to kick in, was very different. Property prices were on the floor and there was doom and gloom everywhere.

Of far more interest than anything that is likely to emerge from the IBRC Inquiry is what has been going on in NAMA over the past few years. (NAMA, the National Asset Management Agency, was the state bad bank set up to take bad property loans out of the Irish banks so they could function again.)

These days we keep reading about the huge property portfolios of bust Irish developers which were sold to mainly American investment funds a few years ago by NAMA at knock down prices, and which are now being resold at double the money back to Irish investment funds and buyers. Ireland was bought and sold and the vulture funds have made a fortune out of it in a few short years, something we will be examining in this column in detail in the future.

As for our Denis the Menace, apart from screwing the best deal he could out of IBRC, he does not appear to have done anything wrong. But his reputation precedes him.

You will remember that as a young businessman, he made his first pile of cash by getting his hands on Ireland's second mobile phone license, later selling his share for over €300 million. And he avoided paying Irish tax on it by relocating to Portugal.

The Moriarty Tribunal subsequently found that he had been helped in getting the license by bunging around €1 million to the then Minister for Communications Michael Lowry, whose department was overseeing the awarding of the contract.

Despite the evidence produced, O'Brien has always denied this and, of course, tribunal findings are not the same as being found guilty in court. No case has ever been taken against him by the Director of Public Prosecutions as a follow-up to the Moriarty Tribunal findings.

O'Brien went on to make a fortune from his company Digicel, a major cell phone operator in the Caribbean and Central America. He is said to be worth between €5-10 billion today.

In Ireland he is the major shareholder in Independent News and Media, the biggest media group here which runs the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Herald, Sunday World, Belfast Telegraph and various local papers, having wrested control in the group from Tony O'Reilly after a bitter battle.

He also owns Communicorp, which runs radio stations in various European countries and almost all radio stations in Ireland apart from those run by the state broadcaster RTE. The combination gives O’Brien enormous media power and makes politicians, journalists and a lot of other people very cautious about challenging him.

On the plus side, he was one of the first people to help after the earthquake in Haiti, where his Digicel company has hundreds of employees, a few of whom were killed in the quake. He poured millions in to help start reconstruction.

He is also known for paying the inflated wages of our soccer bosses, previously Giovanni Trapattoni and now Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane. And he supports good causes like the Special Olympics.

He has other business interests as well, in aircraft leasing, energy (he bought the Topaz oil supply company here out of IBRC and put former Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Brian Cowen on the board!), and several other areas.

No one gets the kind of success our Denis the Menace has achieved in the capitalist world by being an angel. He's probably far from an angel. But no one has proved anything against him in a court of law so far. The commission announced last week by the government is unlikely to change that.

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Tributes paid to 'leader and icon' following death of Shelbourne Hotel head concierge

Denis O'Brien was a much-loved figure in the hospitality sector with many praising him as a 'mentor, leader, trailblazer, and confidant'

  • 09:21, 24 JUN 2022

Denis O'Brien. R.IP

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Tributes have been paid to the "leader and icon" of the Irish hospitality industry following his death.

Denis O'Brien, the head concierge of The Shelbourne Hotel , died on Wednesday leaving behind a heartbroken family. Mr O'Brien was a much-loved figure in the hospitality sector with many praising him as a "mentor, leader, trailblazer, and confidant".

Mr O'Brien started his career in Eyre Square in Galway and he moved on to the likes of The Central Hotel in Dublin and Druids Glen before establishing himself as the head concierge at The Shelbourne Hotel. He was also the international president of Les Clefs d'Or Ireland who paid a heartfelt tribute to Mr O'Brien following his death.

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Speaking on their Facebook page, they said: "Denis wore the prestigious Golden Keys of his beloved Clefs d’Or with immense pride and ambition which would eventually lead to him placing our tiny Island firmly on the Clefs d’Or map by becoming International President, a feat not achieved before or since.

"To us, his friends and colleagues, he was a mentor, leader, trailblazer, confidant, wind-up merchant and best friend, someone who inspired and to whom we aspired to be like. The O’Brien family have lost their Denis.

"Clefs d’Or has lost a leader and Irish hospitality has lost an icon but his legacy is with the guests who have left Ireland having experienced the care and attention of one of our great ambassadors. R.I.P our dear friend."

Well-wishers turned up in droves to remember Mr O'Brien with one person saying: "Met and spoke to him in the Shelbourne Hotel. Such a lovely man so full of knowledge. Will be missed. May he rest in peace Condolences to his family and staff in the Shelbourne."

Another person added: "So sad to hear about Denis Tc O'Brien he was such a lovely person and true gent. I was lucky enough to have worked with Denis for a short time.

"He made everyone he met feel so special and I loved saying hi to him anytime I visited the Shelbourne. RIP Denis."

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Denis O’Brien, Former Manager of George Harrison, Dies at 80

O'Brien & Harrison co-founded the production company that backed such hits as the classic 'Monty Python's Life of Brian.'

By Associated Press

Associated Press

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George Harrison with Denis O'Brien in April 1984.

Denis O’Brien, who served as George Harrison ’s manager for much of the former Beatle’s solo career and with Harrison co-founded the production company that backed such hits as the classic Monty Python’s Life of Brian , has died at age 80.

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O’Brien’s daughter, Kristen O’Brien, told The Associated Press that Denis O’Brien died Dec. 3 in Britain at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon after being admitted for severe abdominal pains. She said the exact cause of death had not been determined.

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O’Brien was a St. Louis native who moved to Europe after receiving a law degree from Washington University and had a long record of successes, along with setbacks and legal battles. Through the actor Peter Sellers, whose career he had helped revive, he met Harrison in 1973 and quickly formed a personal and professional bond. Harrison hired him as his manager after parting with Allen Klein, who had become The Beatles ’ manager in 1969 but eventually fell out with the group, which broke up a year after signing with Klein.

In 1978, Harrison and O’Brien co-founded HandMade Films, a top independent company over the next decade. Their initial project was Life of Brian , Monty Python’s controversial religious parody which they financed after EMI Films dropped out at the last minute. “Life of Brian” is widely regarded as one of the greatest film comedies and Handmade went on to produce Mona Lisa, Withnail and I and Nuns on the Run among others. One notable flop: the 1986 release Shanghai Surprise , which starred Madonna and then-husband Sean Penn in a production marked by tenacious paparazzi, violent outbursts from Penn and an atmosphere so unhappy that Harrison flew in to keep the crew from quitting.

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Handmade went out of business in 1991 and the partnership between Harrison and O’Brien ended in court: O’Brien was ordered by a California judge in 1996 to pay Harrison damages of $11 million for alleged mismanagement of the company’s finances. In August 2001, three months before Harrison’s death, a judge rejected the musician’s effort to stop O’Brien from declaring bankruptcy.

Harrison’s close friend Eric Idle would later allege that O’Brien tried to get him fired from Monty Python because he feared that Idle was turning Harrison against him.

O’Brien also had troubles in his family’s business. In 1997, he succeeded his father, Albert O’Brien, as president and CEO of the Union Financial Group Ltd. Two years later, the company’s board forced him out over what one executive called “a difference of opinion on the business strategy.”

According to Kristen O’Brien, he was essentially retired over the past 20 years, “enjoying life with his wife, Phyllida O’Brien.” He was married four times, most recently to Phyllida, who died in 2019. His survivors include a brother, Douglas, and daughters Kristen and Laura.

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The yacht has a state-of-the-art gym on the sun deck that includes top-of-the-range equipment for pilates, yoga, cross-training, cardio bike, treadmill, etc. A qualified trainer is also on board to complement the fully equipped gym.

The yacht has a beauty salon on the upper deck, with a beautician and masseuse on board. Relaxing in the evening is easy with the state-of-the-art movie theatre on board.

The yacht features a pool and a host of swimming options that include water slides from the top deck and a swimming platform. The boat has a host of water toys, including jet skis and towable toys.

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The exterior design of the NERO yacht is by Neil Taylor and is inspired by the elegance of the 1920s.

The vessel is truly outstanding on the water and features streamlined exterior lines and a classic appearance.

Rigging, a yellow funnel, a black hull, and a cream upper body give NERO a distinguished appearance on the water. She is a custom build from Yantai CIMC Raffles Shipyard in China and was delivered in 2007.

More recently, she underwent major refits in 2021, adding many more luxury features, including the furnishings in the interior.

DJI 0915 6


The NERO yacht is a high-performance yacht with a length of 90.1m, a beam of 12.03m, and a draft of 4.42m. She is powered by twin MAK engines, giving her a cruising speed of 14 knots and a maximum speed of 17 knots.

She has a range of 4500 nautical miles and a displacement of 1384 gross tons. The $70 million yacht has an annual operating cost of $4 – $7 million.

NERO features advanced stabilizers for ultimate comfort levels while onboard. She has won several awards for her impressive design features. 

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Nero Yacht in Gibraltar

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What’s next for Denis O’Brien and Digicel?

The businessman will cede control of his caribbean mobile operator as its debt pile comes tumbling down. by brian carey and gretchen friemann.

Endemic violence in Haiti, one of Digicel’s key markets, has hit Denis O’Brien’s Caribbean dream

I n the early hours of last Wednesday one of the great high-wire acts of corporate Ireland came to a close. For the past eight years the entrepreneur Denis O’Brien has been trying to balance a towering debt pile with the massive challenges of operating from some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

On March 1 Digicel, which O’Brien founded in 2001, needed to repay a $925 million bond. After six months negotiating with an ad hoc committee of bond creditors, a “balance sheet restructuring” was agreed that could see upwards of $1.18 billion worth of Digicel debt converted into shares.

As a result O’Brien will see his 99.9 per cent stake in Digicel dwindle to just 10 per cent. The deal was hammered

Related articles

O’Brien faces tough call to keep hold of Digicel

denis o'brien yacht crash

Denis O'Brien

About denis o'brien.

In 1991, he made his start in the telecommunications sector by forming Esat Telecom. For the next nine years, he served as Esat’s Chairman and CEO, establishing the company as the second largest telecommunications company in Ireland and floating it on NASDAQ in 1997. In 2000, he sold Esat to the BT Group, using the funds from the sale to help finance his next business venture: Digicel Group.

The model of capitalism has to change. If you want to build a sustainable business in an emerging market, you’ve got to fund impactful community projects, particularly in education” - Denis O'Brien

O’Brien is passionate about giving back to his communities. He founded the first Digicel Foundation in Jamaica in 2004 in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan with a vision of helping to create a world where no one gets left behind. Currently, he serves as a United Nations Broadband Commissioner for Digital Development, where he is helping promote access to broadband internet in developing countries and forcing big tech to contribute to the cost of bringing broadband access to the 3.5 billion people who currently don’t have access to the internet. Additionally, Denis serves on the board of Concern Worldwide US, an organisation dedicated to helping make positive change around the world.

Learn More About Denis O’Brien

Denis O'Brien, founder and chairman of Digicel, attends ribbon cutting in Haiti

Leadership Insights

As the 1998 EOY Ireland Entrepreneur of the Year, Denis O’Brien was the first guest of the EOY Architects of Business documentary series. This series features Entrepreneur of the Year alumni, who share their stories and insights that have guided each on their road to success. Beginning the series, Denis discusses his various entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavours across his tenured business experience.

Watch the full interview here

Latest News

Previous St. John Bosco Boys’ Home pupil talking shares his experience

Digicel Jamaica Foundation Extends Funds to the St. John Bosco Vocational Training Centre

On 7 September 2022, the Sister Susan Frazer, RSM Educational Complex at the St. John Bosco Vocational Training Centre in Hatfield, Manchester opened its doors.

Players celebrating at the Digicel-sponsored Free Fire tournament

Digicel & GameNation Promote E-Sports in the Caribbean

Last summer, Jamaica’s premiere online gaming platform, GameNation, hit the market. In honour of the launch, Digicel hosted hundreds of participants at its Ocean Boulevard

Digicel Jamaica Foundation helps Special Olympics Jamaica send teams to the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi

Digicel Jamaica Foundation’s Support Helps Special Olympics Jamaica Train During COVID-19 Pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports world was put on hold. But, that did not stop the Digicel Jamaica Foundation from supporting Special Olympics Jamaica

Read the Latest News About Denis O’Brien   →


Denis O’Brien has time and again channelled his energy and resources into giving back and providing opportunities for others. He has used his platform to write about altruistic causes and direct the public’s attention to education, community development and special needs. He has also appeared in documentary films that focus on the progression of human rights.

With a particular focus on helping vulnerable populations within his Digicel markets, he founded the first Digicel Foundation in 2004 in Jamaica. Since its formation, programmes and interventions from the Foundation have helped millions of people across Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago.

Read More →

Denis O'Brien, founder and chairman of Digicel, presents a gift to a local community organisation on behalf of the Digicel Foundation

Denis O’Brien serves on the Board of Directors for Concern Worldwide U.S., which aims to serve impoverished communities around the world through volunteer work and developmental programmes, and as Chairman of the Council of Patrons for Special Olympics Ireland – a relationship which dates back to when he served as Chair of the 2003 World Summer Games in Ireland. He also funds the Iris O’Brien Foundation, which is focused on promoting human rights, helping people affected by disasters, supporting people with disabilities, educational causes and the promotion of the arts.

He has invested in his alma maters. The O’Brien Centre of Science at University College Dublin (UCD) was funded by and named after him, and he has pledged financial support to students pursuing an MBA at the Boston College Carroll School of Management through the O’Brien Fellowship.

Learn More About Denis O’Brien’s Philanthropic Work

Contact Denis O’Brien »


Denis O’Brien says ‘Sunday Business Post’ articles a ‘hatchet job’

Businessman tells high court interest in his banking affairs was ‘verging on voyeurism’.

denis o'brien yacht crash

Businessman Denis O Brien. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Denis O'Brien has told a High Court jury that articles in the Sunday Business Post which named him as one of the 22 biggest borrowers from Irish banks in 2008 were a "hatchet job page by page".

He said being called a "buccaneer" borrower by the Sunday Independent in April 2012 was not derogatory but he objected to being described as part of a "gang" of 22 borrowers in the Sunday Business Post articles of March 15th, 2015.

Michael McDowell SC, for the Sunday Business Post , said the dictionary definition of a buccaneer is a pirate usually operating in the Caribbean. He asked Mr O'Brien was he seriously saying it was "a complimentary term".

Mr O’Brien said buccaneer is not a derogatory term but a gang is.

When counsel said a biography of Mr O’Brien by Siobhán Creaton referred to Mr O’Brien as one of a gang and again put to him that gang is not a derogatory term, the businessman said he had not read that book or co-operated with the author.

Cross-examination of Mr O'Brien has concluded in his action alleging defamation in the Sunday Business Post articles.

Their focus was a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) given to the government in November 2008 concerning the exposure of Ireland’s banks. The report was obtained in 2015 by the newspaper but destroyed shortly afterwards to protect the source.

Written by journalists Tom Lyons, Gavin Sheridan and others, the articles included a front page story headlined ‘22 men and €26 billion’ with a subheading ‘The secret report that convinced Cowen the banks weren’t bust’.

Mr O’Brien claims the articles wrongly meant he was among a “gang” of 22 borrowers linked to bankrupting Ireland’s banking system and injured his reputation. The defence denies the words mean what Mr O’Brien alleges, denies defamation or malicious publication and has pleaded “fair and reasonable publication on a matter of public interest”.

Mr O'Brien was asked about earlier evidence from him concerning the April 2012 Sunday Independent article written by Mr Lyons and Nick Webb and published with a strapline 'Anglo's Top 13 Buccaneer Borrowers'.

Mr O’Brien said last week, following lengthy correspondence between his spokesman James Morrissey and the newspaper, he believed he got an apology from Independent group managing editor Michael Denieffe over “coverage”.

On Tuesday, he said what he had said last week was that he was not entirely sure about that matter and would check. Having done so, he said there was an apology but it had “nothing to do” with the April 2012 article.

Mr O'Brien was also asked about other evidence last week of his belief that he had received a letter from Conor Killeen, a former owner of the Sunday Business Post , stating that Mr Killeen had some control over editorial content.

Mr O’Brien said he had been unable to locate such a letter but did remember one. When Mr McDowell suggested there was “no such letter”, Mr O’Brien said: “I entirely disagree”.

He also rejected a suggestion that his evidence last Thursday was calculated to discredit Mr Lyons and the Sunday Business Post when compared with the Sunday Independent . He said the difference between the articles was "chalk and cheese" and the Sunday Independent did not describe him as part of a gang that "wrecked the country".

Mr O'Brien was also asked about an email sent by Mr Lyons to Mr Morrissey on before the Sunday Independent appeared, in which Mr Lyons asked questions concerning Mr O'Brien's banking affairs with IBRC and the financial position of his company Digicel. Mr O'Brien said he told Mr Morrissey to inform Mr Lyons there would be no comment.

When counsel put to Mr O’Brien that he had wrongly accused Mr Lyons of having low standards when Mr Lyons had sought responses from him, Mr O’Brien said it was “verging on voyeurism” to try and find out details of his banking affairs.

“I have a right to privacy,” he said, adding that he was never a burden on any bank.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times


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