(Fake) Letter from Dr O’Brien to Dr Desmond


                                                              DENIS O’BRIEN



Denis celebrates his widening ascendancy in the rich lists with his even less-press-friendly
co-baron, Dermot.

Dear Dermot,

Bit quieter this month. Coulda been something we said. Better off away, the likes of us. I’ll never forget your saying: “the reason I left is to have the freedom to do what I want to do. I’m avoiding politicians, I’m avoiding the press and I’m avoiding small-minded people”.

Forbes. 233 in the list of the world’s wealthiest people  with a net worth of $5.2bn (€3.9bn), as of March 2013.

Naughton 736 at $2bn. You 831 with $1.8bn. Get used to it Father Time.

Joking aside, glad to see Intuition Publishing, your e-learning company, grew its pretax profits last year by more than 15 per cent to over €6 million – selling web-based training tools to banks and industries such as life sciences and the oil and gas sector. It has more than 150 staff, and has invested heavily in mobile phone-based training tools in recent years.

Profits of almost €25 million and a cash pile of €23.8 million, according to recently filed accounts. CEO is David Harrison, top geezer, your nominee on board Independent News & Media, where you’re  the second-largest shareholder. After ahem.

Bagged meself ‘Nero’, super-yacht for just over €30 million from Neil Taylor, founder of Game. Corsair theme – VIP suites, library, jet-skis. Still holdin’ onto me roots though, just.

Amused to see us in the Business Post 25-year retrospective. By the way I’ve gone quiet on the whole suing the shit out of anyone who cuts across me thing so I’m not suing them for mixing me up with a ‘Denis O’Brien’ who’s being investigated by the revenue, last year.  Who owns the Business Post – ie Key Capital – anyway and shouldn’t it be us? Anyway there I am in 2007, the year I officially  became a billionaire.  Four times that in seven years.  But I’m not counting. Profile is by Richard Curran, general miseriguts.  Net point is he addresses the whole Denis/Sir Anthony thing. He quotes a “market source familiar with both men” [probably Madser from Old Belvo] saying, “This is now gearing up to be he biggest fight in Irish corporate history but the real endgame could be four or five years away”. High-five, Dr D. How right he was. Did you see the state of your man on RTé – Morrissey had a DVD DHLed to Valletta: “the jury is out on AJF O’Reilly and it will be out until the full-time whistle blows”. Cue oily grin. Well you  blew it yourself, Sir Anthony. You and I could show RTé a little what the ‘Real Deal’ means, Dermo, and it’s not Kipling’s ‘If’. Anyway then I came across yourself, ‘Mr Midas’, Ireland’s richest man at 1.23 – ironic that (see pararaph 2 above)! “I never came across any journalist I would trust to publish [your barrister’s report into the Glackin Report. I find journalists lazy and they don’t do their homework”. Beautifully and presciently said, sir.

That’s enough of you. Back to me. Digicel, which has operations in the Caribbean, Central America and the south Pacific pulled in flattish revenues – $678 million (€535 million) in the three months to the end of June, the first quarter of the group’s financial year. Its net loss widened to $49.3 million in the quarter from $10.8 million in the same period of 2013 due to higher finance costs. Interest costs on its debts rose to $185 million in the first quarter from $144 million in the previous year. We increased customers to 13.3 million at the end of June, up from 12.9 million a year earlier.

The results also show that “significant progress” has been made in the rollout of our telecoms towers in Burma, where we didn’t pay any ministers at all and the company bid unsuccessfully for a mobile licence. By the end of June, construction had started on 628 towers while our tenant, Ooredoo, launched its wireless services in the country. Digicel provided $22 million in the first quarter for its Burma operation. In July Digicel announced it had agreed to acquire a cable and fibre network in Jamaica from Telstar Cable. This fourth cable acquisition in a number of months increases our reach to six Caribbean markets.

Digicel’s long-term debt widened to $5.8 billion at the end of June from $5.4 billion. This primarily reflects an additional $500 million in loan notes issued in December 2013. It’s all in hand, you know, we really are very profitable. Out there in the Caribbean, being charitable. Profitable and charitable.

I’m interested in both, you know. I get equal fun out of business and doing things that I hope help people.

We invest very heavily in poor countries and get a very good return on investment. You could easily be a kind of modern-day conquistador or a modern-day multinational and not do anything – and there are a lot of big multinationals doing nothing.

However, I think you can do something impactful not in a scatter gun approach, but focus in concise areas where you bring your commercial project management skills to bear to do good projects. That obviously helps your business too. Digicel’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) were unchanged at just more than $290 million. Nearly all of this payment went to…me.

Will be in Harto’s before Australia. Morrissey will arrange.