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Denis’ Christmas note to Dermot who’s strangely getting less media coverage than he is.

Dear Dermot,

 

Didn’t see you at the pre-Christmas Business and Finance Business awards. Hyland giving out the gongs as usual, while all around him crumbles and his stable of magazines including B&F and Magill is largely dormant. Top man, Ian, if ever you want an award or a listing, dinner in Shanahan’s with Clinton or to ring the bell on Ireland Day at the NYSE. Totally nice guy. All the egos there. Missed you.

 

Hoping to get hands on the Four Seasons in Ballsbridge – my sort of place. Super organisation. For around €50m from London and Regional. Cost the Nollaig Partnership fronted by Quinlan €70m to build.

 

Over the last year I’ve lobbed another €9.8m into Communicorp which owns 98FM, Newstalk and Today FM (yesterday’s Mistake as Leslie calls it). We’ve bought eight regional British stations and sold a number in central Europe for €9m. I’m now owed €60m by it. Commentators are saying we should merge with Doughty Hanson which owns TV3. I could then do a Sam Smyth on Browne. ‘Not fit to own a newspaper’. He said. Well how about not fit to run a magazine, and no longer running a tv show?

 

Is it my imagination or is the Irish Independent covering smaller and smaller moves by uncontrolling me? Digicel, it reported recently, has invested $5m (€4m) in a Sweden-based micro-insurance provider, Bima. Don’t ask.

 

I’ve appointed top guy, Emmet O’Neill, who recently sold Smiles Dental – former E and Y Entrepreneur of Year candidate and my nephew – CEO of Topaz. Super lad most notable so far for speaking the unpalatable truth: “What frustrates me is the constant bad news in the media. It drives me mad. I feel what we need is a five year period of dictatorship, sort it all out, give it back to us and not allow anyone to have an opinion”. Irony of course. No one sees it.

 

Topaz, now with Cowen on the board has, through its parent Kendrick Investments owned by me, confirmed that it is about to bag rival Esso Ireland in a deal that will see it take around 30 per cent of the motor fuels market for around €70m. Esso owns 38 service stations and the right to supply 60 more. It’s all subject to approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. A bit bloody SIPTU if you ask me.

Topaz building two new service stations, one in Clonshaugh, north Dublin, and one in Laois at cost of €10 million. 110 jobs. Green jersey in a grubby parking lot by the M7.

 

The Beacon, my private hospital, has appointed a new board, Great organisation. It’ll be led by non-executive chairman Colm Doherty – Topaz Director and managing director of AIB until 2010. Part of the policy of shining up clever old bastards with collapsed dreams. And making them grateful and LOYAL FOREVER to Denis O’Brien.

 

The hospital has also appointed three new non-executive directors including Niall Devereux, group financial director of my meter supplier Siteserv, a co-founder in 1996 of Bupa Ireland who is chief financial officer of Topaz. Super job.

 

Great to see loyal Sarah (Carey) getting it wrong in her Irish Independent article that Ireland must introduce water charges because “the Water Framework Directive introduced by the European Union made it European law”. Actually Ireland’s got an exemption from the law but was great propaganda for us meter installers. Such a charming lass: can’t think why the Times went along with all that leftie crap about “her credibility as a columnist had been damaged by the findings of the report of the Moriarty tribunal and its aftermath” etc. Gas days I had in the Esat days, paying government ministers and partying all night.

 

 

 

The final rules will not apply retrospectively. Did you hear that, Dermot? THE FINAL RULES WILL NOT APPLY RETROSPECTIVELY.

New Government guidelines on media mergers say it is “undesirable” for one person or business to hold excessive influence. Excessive influence?

“Sam had done his job and should move on”.

“I know other reporters, really kind of writing pretty positive situations. There was one good story last week carried – I can’t remember who, but by and large it’s generally negative stuff. Someone with our friend [Sam] down there I think really trying to ensure that a good balanced story comes out. That would be appreciated”.

So you can see I love balance. Leslie loves balance. And if I have anything to do with it Independent Newspapers will learn to love balance and the Sindo not to love Denis-disloyalist O’Connor as editor. Super job.

 

They’d laugh at us in Haiti if I told them these bloody new rules. They’d fall off the chair laughing. That is Stone Age stuff. That is completely the antithesis of where the world is moving to. Sure there’ll only be one newspaper in ten years anyway. Chaired by Leslie. Edited by John Delaney: the shrewdest businessman I know.

 

Recently, Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists called on Alex White to “call a halt” to what it saw as my threat to media diversity. That plea came after Newstalk secured a deal to provide news to more stations, making it the largest supplier of radio news in Ireland. Who the fuck?

 

Is it that you do nothing or just that you don’t control enough media for anything you do to get reported. The only thing I could find you’d done this month was buy 6% of One51 an Irish renewable energy and plastics goup for nearly €10m. One51 owns 24% of NTR, the wind-energy company. Yawn.

 

Well I guess at least you’ll be in Pink Sands this Christmas, designing salt cellars or whatever floats your (smallish – relatively) yacht.

 

Construction underway on my palace on Shrewsbury so I guess Catherine and I will be in Malta. Unless we get the Four Seasons before the 25th.

 

Seasons greetings,

 

Denis