Tag Archives: Denis O’Brien

Siteserv; Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy; Denis O’Brien

You may recall the Siteserv sale back in 2012.

Denis O’Brien owed Anglo Irish Bank hundreds of millions.

Siteserv owed Anglo Irish Bank €144 million.

Denis bought Siteserv debt-free for €45 million.

You will find a detailed background to the deal here.

Since then a Commission of Investigation, led by High Court judge Brian Cregan, has been tasked with investigating the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien, and other matters.

In 2017 Catherine Murphy, of the Soc Dems, submitted a 300-page statement to the Commission detailing her research into the sale.

The commission later wrote to Ms Murphy saying, if she doesn’t reveal her sources, “it may not be possible to advance some of the issues raised” by her.

Further to this…

This morning.

In The Irish Times.

Jack Horgan-Jones reports:

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy will not appear at the Siteserv inquiry as she fears she will be forced to reveal the sources of her information about businessman Denis O’Brien’s finances, The Irish Times has learned.

In a 10-page letter to the Cregan commission, parliamentary lawyers acting on Ms Murphy’s behalf argue that if she were to attend, she would be cross-examined by lawyers acting for other witnesses on “the source or sources of information” she relied upon when making statements about Mr O’Brien and the deal that saw him buy infrastructure company Siteserv.

“The commission is unable to afford any reassurance to Deputy Murphy that such cross-examination will not be permitted or that she will not be required to answer the questions put to her in the course of such cross-examination,” the letter, seen by The Irish Times, states.

Catherine Murphy will not appear at Siteserv inquiry (Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times)

Previously: [REDACTED]’s 1.25% Interest Rate

What The Commenter Said

Cregan Commission on Broadsheet


From top: National broadband contract; KPMG logo; yesterday’s Irish Times

Paul O’ Donoghue writes:

Depressing. The government is spending €3bn on the rural broadband network, but won’t own it once it’s complete.

KPMG was paid €11m to give the government this advice….

KPMG, eh?

‘Rolls-Royce’ rural broadband to cost €6,000 per household (irish Times)

Tuesday: “Surely, It’s Time To Shout ‘Stop'”

Previously: The KPMG Connection

Rollingnews

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager (above a`nd Minister for Communications Richard Bruton (top)

This morning.

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, €2.6 billion of public support for the controversial National Broadband Plan.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton said:

“I welcome today’s decision by the European Commission to grant state aid approval to the National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband Plan will deliver high speed broadband to 1.1 million people, almost one quarter of our country. Without high speed broadband it will be significantly more difficult to attract new jobs to rural areas and develop new enterprise opportunities and it will be more difficult to retain the jobs that currently exist in these areas. H

igh speed broadband will allow remote working, which can ease congestion and reduce emissions. It will ensure that the digital revolution happening in education, healthcare, farming and tourism does not bypass rural Ireland. We will make sure that rural Ireland is not left behind.”

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of EC competition policy said:

“The National Broadband Plan in Ireland is expected to address the significant digital divide between urban and rural areas in Ireland, enabling Irish consumers and businesses to benefit from the full potential of digital growth. This will help households and businesses in areas of Ireland where private investment is insufficient.”

Hmm.

State aid: Commission approves €2.6 billion public support for the Irish National Broadband Plan (EU Commission)

Previously: National Broadband Plan on Broadsheet

Rollingnews


David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and the Environment and his proposed bill (top) to amend the 2009 Broadcasting Act to allow freedom of movement particularly in relation to Denis O’Brien-owned stations

This morning.

Further to  ongoing Denis “O’Brien-related censorship shenanigans at his Communicorp stable, home of Newstalk and Today FM….

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane tweetz::

I will move a Bill in the coming weeks to make it an offence to prohibit members of the NUJ from communications media.

The banning of certain journalists from Communicorp IRL is wrong and should not be tolerated. #FreePress…

Previously: ‘I Believe In A Free Press”

If only someone big at Communicorp could stand up to him?

Only kidding.

Go amendment!

Broadcasting Act 2009 here

Rollingnews

The Ireland-U.S. Council will present its Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2019 to Denis O’Brien, Chairman & Founder of Digicel to mark his distinguished and successful business career and to underline his notable and important achievements in building bonds between America and Ireland.

The Ireland-U.S. Council Award is also presented to celebrate his significant and generous philanthropy over many years to causes aimed at improving the lives of poor people and those less-fortunate especially in the fields of education and healthcare

Denis O’Brien, Chairman & Founder of Digicel,to Receive the Ireland-U.S. Council’s 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievement at 57th Annual Dinner in New York (The Ireland-US Council)

Via Bank of Island

Continue reading

From top: The Currency; Denis O’Brien; Green Party leader Eamon Ryan; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan raised with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the recent decision by Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp – which owns Today FM, Newstalk, Dublin’s 98FM and Spin 1038 – to ban all The Currency staff, journalists, and contributors from appearing on the company’s radio stations.

It follows the implementation of similar ban against Irish Times‘ journalists in 2017.

He said:

“It seems to me that there’s a lacuna on our law. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland seems unwilling to take action against Communicorp which recently made a decision that certain members of the media, Tom Lyons and Ian Kehoe, from currency.ie [sic, thecurrency.news] will be restricted from taking part in radio programmes on their stations.

“It’s similar to the decision taken two years ago in response to an article Fintan O’Toole wrote which saw The Irish Times’ journalists banned from the stations.

“The recent case they say it because of commercial rivalry.

“I sense, I’ve talked to every grouping here today, is that every party is in agreement that that’s an egregious or has a poor effect on our democracy. We need a free press which is open to debate and allows different voices to be heard.

“And whether it’s for commercial reasons or whether it’s an editorial view of a certain owner – that they mightn’t like what is written in a paper – to ban journalists from radio stations is not what we want.

“To avoid the legislation, could I ask you maybe to join the other leaders and groups of every grouping in this House, to write a letter to Communicorp asking them to reverse the decision in both cases and to stand up for press freedom.

“I’d be keen to hear your views on that so I’d be happy to join the deputy in that.

In response, Mr Varadkar said:

“My sentiments are the same as his [Eamon Ryan’s] on this matter. I believe in free speech and I believe in a free press and I don’t believe anyone should be banned from the airwaves – journalist or citizen – unless it’s for a very good reason.

“And those reasons should be somebody inciting hatred but I don’t think that anyone should be banned from the radio, from TV, or from any publication, solely based on who their employer is.”

The Currency was launched last week by former Sunday Business Post editor Ian Kehoe and business editor Tom Lyons.

Hours after the website went live, Communicorp producers were informed of the ban.

Earlier this year, Mr O’Brien lost a defamation action he took against the Sunday Business Post over articles published in March 2015 about a Government-commissioned but unpublished PricewaterhouseCoopers report into Ireland’s top 22 borrowers.

The newspaper reported that PwC recorded Mr O’Brien as No.10 on the list.

In November 2008, after receiving the PwC report, the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil that Ireland was right to guarantee the banks in September 2008.

He also told the Dáil that there was enough money in Ireland’s banks for the next three years.

Mr O’Brien claimed the articles concerning him in the Sunday Business Post were defamatory of him but the jury found this was not the case.

Previously: Converted

Closing Arguments

Denis O’Brien

Ratings agency Fitch is suggesting that Digicel Group [94 per cent owned by Irishman Denis O’Brien] consider raising new capital or sell additional ­assets in order to prepare for its next payout on maturing bonds.

That’s because more than half of its debt maturities are due within four years and its free cash flow is negative.

[Digicel already tried to restructure its debt by ­extending the maturity dates. But an ­extension needs to be matched with increased capital or revenue to repay the maturities]

Digicel’s total debt maturities are estimated at US$6.97 billion: with US$1.3 billion in payouts set for April 2022; another US$2.9 billion in 2023; and an additional US$2.56 billion for repayment ­beyond that.

The telecoms’ total debt is more than 6.7 times its operating earnings.

The Financial Gleaner awaits a response from Digicel on whether it will contemplate selling shares or assets, going forward….

Digicel advised to sell assets or add fresh capital (Jamaica Gleaner)

Rollingnews

From top: Bill Clinton’s portrait; from left Denis O’Brien, artist Colin Davidson and Mr Clinton at its unveiling yesterday

As does the nose strangely.

Yesterday.

Clinton Foundation HQ, Manhattan, New York.

Standing beside the painting, Bill Clinton said: “This actually captures a part of my personality I often try to keep hidden because I try always to be upbeat, I always try to be positive I always to think that the best is around the corner.”

…Irish businessman Denis O’Brien was among the guests at the function and he was thanked for supporting the role of the Clinton Foundation in a number of countries.

FBI Agents (out of picture).

Clinton moved by a ‘very Irish portrait’ Tommie Gorman, RTÉ)

Previously: Shaky Foundation

Pics: RTE



From top: Denis O’Brien and Siteserv (now Actavo); Island Capital Management seeking a judicial review of Justice Brian Cregan’s

The Commission of Investigation into debt write-offs by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, has published its SIXTH interim report.

And it is requesting a further extension to allow for judicial review (above) by Denis O’Brien’s Island Capital Management to be heard.

The commission is tasked with examining 38 transactions which cost the State €10million or more each – or a total debt write-down of €1.88 billion.

The transaction in question is the 2012 sale of Siteserv to a company controlled by Denis O’Brien.

The High Court will give a ruling over a claim of privilege over a legal document and to objections to the commission’s mention in their terms of reference to Siteserv being ‘not commercially sound’ at its sale.

Set up in 2015, the commission, was originally meant to report by the end of that year, this was extended until April 2016, then until the end of 2017, and then until the end of 2018, and then by June of this year and is now scheduled for sometime beyond March 31, 2020.

Good times.

Read full report here

Previously: Inactavo

Rollingnews

Denis O’Brien in New York in 2012

‘The O’Reilly family’s stranglehold on most of Irish journalism is over and that can only be good….I’m delighted that businessman Denis O’Brien, much admired here in America, is taking over effectively as the chief shareholder of Ireland’s largest newspaper group, Independent News and Media.

Denis O’Brien will bring a very different set of values to the newspaper world in my opinion. He is a creator not a destroyer, who has pumped tens of millions of his own funds into Haiti and other impoverished countries where his company Digicel does business.’

Niall O’Dowd, Irish Central April 25, 2012.

Denis O’Brien, a billionaire with a mission not just to make money (Niall O’Dowd, Irish Central, April 25, 2012)

‘…A public tribunal set up by the state had found in 2011 that O’Brien had paid over €1 million to a government minister who had facilitated him in winning the cell phone license in Ireland that was the basis of his fortune. And there were other worrying aspects about O’Brien which raised questions about his suitability as a national newspaper boss.

O’Brien’s seven years in control of INM have been characterized by cutbacks and confusion as a way to halt the decline was desperately sought. Many of the best journalists at INM left and staff pensions were cut almost in half.

On the plus side, the development of Independent.ie was impressive, resulting in unique visitor numbers for the site that ran into millions a month. But as noted above, this never translated into significant revenue and the sour mood among staff at INM has become even more depressed in the last few years.’

John Spain, Irish Central yesterday

What’s next for declining Independent News and Media after sale (John Spain, Irish Central)

Pic via Irish America magazine