Tag Archives: Denis O’Brien

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Tony’O’Reilly at the INM AGM in 2004 (Top) and David Duffy on The Real Deal last night.

You may recall how this summer AIB secured judgements against Tony O’Reilly and companies controlled by him for €45million.

In June the Commercial Court heard that he owed approximately €195 million to eight different banks – with AIB reportedly calling him ‘insolvent’ three times during the hearing.

On The Real Deal, a documentary on Tony O’Reilly (by  RTÉ’s David Murphy) broadcast last night, David Duffy, CEO of AIB, pictured above, said:

“People will make all kinds of comments about what they perceive is the reality. We engage in a very simple process, it’s very consistent and it’s equitable and fair and does not differentiate between one person and another. So there is absolutely no question whatsoever that we took an action for a purpose, other than to treat people exactly as everybody else is treated.”

Further to this, readers may also recall how in June, Colm Keena reported in the Irish Times:

“The purchase of three major Irish businesses over the past two years by the billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien involved total bank write-offs of more than €300 million. The deals saw the businessman invest €230 million to acquire the Siteserv Group, the Topaz Group and the Beacon Private Hospital.”

Mr O’Brien, who has a 29.9 per cent stake, is the biggest shareholder in the Independent News & Media. In April last year the group did a deal with its eight banks, which include AIB and Bank of Ireland, where the banks wrote off €138 million of an overall debt of €422 million, in exchange for a shareholding in the group worth approximately €10 million.”

Good times.

Watch back in full here

Related: Ignominious end to career of Ireland’s first business superstar (Ciaran Hancock, Mark Paul, Irish Times, June 27, 2014)

Sir Anthony O’Reilly described as ‘insolvent’ by AIB (Tom Lyons, Irish Times, June 24, 2014)

Banks write off over €300m in three deals with Denis O’Brien (Colm Keena, Irish Times, June 13, 2014)

(Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland)


Some Web Summit coverage in today’s irish Independent

DJ writes

“I have been noticing the abnormal amount of coverage the Web Summit is getting  across all Denis O’Brien-owned media platforms. It’s almost like he’s behind the whole event. He isn’t is he? Is HE? No? Is HE? NO? NOOOOOOOO? Is HE? He isn’t?

Bitter begrudging keyboard whatsit or cogent observer of Irish flotsam?

We may never know.


“Minister, there would be some unease about the fact that Denis O’Brien’s close political links may have been instrumental in his bid to buy Siteserv, the company that won the State contract to install water meters for Irish Water.

“I think the idea that powerful businessmen with close ties to the establishment still end up profiteering from decisions made by governments or semi-State bodies must be a worry for this Government as you promised that things would be different.”

“The very nature by which this gentleman ended up in possession of Siteserv is very questionable. He did a deal with IBRC where €100m of debt that Siteserv owed to IBRC, which was really the taxpayer, was wiped off….”

“…two higher bids for the company that would have earned the State more money were rejected and a former Fine Gael minister [Alan Dukes] was chairman of IBRC at the time the deal was approved”.

Independent TD Mick Wallace in the Dáil under privilege (*blows raspberry*) today.

“I think that is a very worrying set of assertions as opposed to a question…That politicisation of the public procurement system would be quite improper and unlawful … Bluntly, considering the deputy’s position, I am surprised at some of the assertions he has made.”

Minister Brendan Howlin responding.

Wallace says O’Brien’s Siteserv bid ‘questionable’ (RTÉ)

Previously: Denis O’Brien and That Siteserv Deal


Denis O’Brien

“In Ireland, there might eventually be only one or two newspapers. The problem now is, there are a lot of management teams in media who don’t see any way of co-operating, and to be honest, they are the cows on the line.”

“People in media and management can’t cooperate, and if you don’t cooperate sending vans, sharing resources, sharing everything, nobody will survive. Or only one will survive.”

“You take INM [Independent News and Media], which has stabilised. I think [INM chairman] Leslie Buckly had a massive impact in doing that, and with great difficulty, and the board met nearly every week. It’s a real worker board, and not a lot of reward.”

“It is the digital side where they made the investment, and that is where the really big bet is. Hopefully, we can maintain a good solid base of readers who buy the paper every day. It is a huge challenge, complicated by the fact that all the news you see about media is written by media, so they are all conflicted.”

“At the end of the day, there has to be pollination between online radio and TV and newspapers. I was up with a business in Canada last week, Rogers, and they have a massive network across all platforms, and whatever business they have is cross-promoted across everything else. They are in radio, television, cable TV, mobiles – they are a mega company. ”

“When I told one of their main guys about the restrictions in Ireland, the guy fell off the chair laughing. He said: “You gotta be kidding me, that is Stone Age stuff. That is completely the antithesis of where the world is moving to.”

Denis O’Brien in an interview with Niall O’Dowd in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post.

The Moriarty Tribunal, Irish Water, or how Mr O’Brien’s purchase of both SiteServ and Blue Ocean Associates came after the IBRC wrote off €64million and €100million in debt from the companies respectively were not discussed.

In addition, there was no mention of the Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley’s call for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the future of Ireland’s media.

Good times.

Mr O’Brien’s interview is behind paywall at the Sunday Business Post. It’s also on Irish Central (link below).

Exclusive: Denis O’Brien on Tony O’Reilly, Hillary, Ireland, and making a difference (Niall O’Dowd, Irish Central)

(Photocall ireland)

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James Morrissey, Denis O’Brien’s media adviser, arriving at Dublin Castle in 2010 for the Moriarty Tribunal

You may have read Malachy Clerkin’s column, headlined Is there no end to Denis O’Brien’s intervention in Irish sport?, in the Irish Times last Thursday.

In it, Mr Clerkin recalled an exchange about tax exiles between Mr O’Brien and Oisín Quinn, counsel for the Irish Daily Mail, during Mr O’Brien’s successful libel case against the Irish Daily Mail.

Mr Clerkin then argued:

“It is difficult to see yourself reflected in a national team that on a certain level is just a billionaire’s plaything.”

Further to this, Mr O’Brien’s media gatekeeper James Morrissey has written a letter to the Irish Times this morning, stating:

Sir, – I read Malachy Clerkin’s column in The Irish Times with interest (“Is there no end to Denis O’Brien’s intervention in Irish sport?”, September 18th). Clearly Malachy Clerkin doesn’t want Denis O’Brien to support Irish soccer or Irish rugby. Would he have preferred that these sports would be denied any assistance that just might help them progress? It strikes me as a rather unusual stance for a sports journalist.

If Malachy had bothered to check the facts he would have learned that Denis O’Brien’s support for the Irish cricket team came as a result of a request for immediate assistance during the 2007 Cricket World Cup when they unexpectedly got through to the Super 8 round.

From the general tone of his column it would appear that Malachy would have been happier if the plea for help was rejected. If he has such a hang-up about financial contributions that have sought nothing in return, how does he feel about sports sponsorship?

What strikes me as particularly incongruous is how an advocate of sport could so determinedly attempt to convert what just might be a positive motivation into some covert agenda.

What lies ahead for readers of The Irish Times – Malachy Clerkin rails against corporate branding of sports? Opposing advertising on sports pages? Refuses any element of his salary which might be sourced from commercial activities? Maybe Malachy is a sports journalist who simply does not like sports.

Yours, etc,
Media adviser
to Denis O’Brien,
Fitzwilliam Quay, Dublin 4.

He used to be a journalist.

No really.

Denis O’Brien and sport (Irish Times letters)

Photocall Ireland


He’s buying everyone.

Except the people he’s suing.

The Irish Times reports:

Jonathan Sexton’s commercial agreement with Denis O’Brien, which played a significant role in bringing the Ireland outhalf back to Leinster next season, confirms the new IRFU strategy of keeping hold of their most precious commodities. Basically, the provinces can now top up central contracts with private funding….

Sexton agreement with Denis O’Brien confirms IRFU’s strategy (Gavin Cummiskey, Irish Times)

(Photocall Ireland)

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“The Competition Authority must urgently review the extent of Mr O’Brien’s influence in newsprint, digital and radio. It needs to assess how that would be affected by a deal with TV3 in the areas of advertising and talent-sharing. The Competition Authority should seek to determine whether INM and Communicorp have engaged in any joint selling of advertising involving their respective platforms and the value of any such transactions.”

“That there is already co-operation between INM and Communicorp is not in doubt. In addition to scratching each other’s back on editorial matters there is also a growing trend for “contra” advertising. In 2012 INM received the equivalent of €500,000 in advertising from Communicorp and those stations received the same amount in return.”

“Last year those respective figures had increased to €1m. The authority also needs to find out what business arrangements, if any, exist between Mr O’Brien’s Topaz Energy, the country’s biggest oil and convenience brand with 330 stations, and INM’s newspaper titles.”

From an editorial in yesterday’s Sunday Times, further to the news that TV3 is planning to form a partnership with Communicorp, the radio group owned by Denis O’Brien.

Previously: Anything Good In The Sunday Times?

Topaz The Morning To You

Wanderley Massafelli/Photocall Ireland

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Independent.ie will run a ‘behind-the-scenes’ documentary, hosted by Barry Egan, about FAI chief executive John Delaney from Sunday.

The documentary, called John The Baptist, will feature Denis O’Brien who pays 70 per cent of Ireland football manager Martin O’Neill and assistant manager Roy Keane’s wages, or €910,000 of their combined €1.3million wages.

In it, Mr O’Brien praises Delaney’s running of the FAI, which recently secured a debt write-down of €11.7million.

“John Delaney could run anything. John Delaney could run UEFA easily. He could run FIFA as far as I’m concerned — certainly better than [FIFA President] Sepp Blatter, and more honestly.”

Right so.

And sure he’s great craic too.

Coming soon: John The Baptist (Independent.ie)

H/T: Balls.ie

Previously: Meanwhile, At The FAI