Satire: Denis shares some hard-earned business wisdom

Denis O’Brien

Dear Dermot,

INM gobshites. Badly run with  no internet strategy. My mini-Afghanistan, basically. Bloody Sir Anthony blew up the group. Everyone loves him, bloody poetry-reading patrician. Daddy always  told him “it’s easy to win but it’s hard to lose”. Triumph and disaster, that sort of thing. But check-mate to Denis O’Brien, as Business Plus put it. Get used to it, has-bean. So all in all I thought you went off the rails saying he was a role model. Actually, in fairness, you said he was a “role model for myself” (myself, a good word for underscoring the size of an ego) so we knew that you weren’t exactly putting yourself down. And when you said he was “one of the outstanding businessmen of several generations”, I think everyone knew the space you were creating. You and I, sir. Number One in Ireland and – whatever you are (869, Forbes, I seem to recall!).

even smelled good
even smelled good

“Mr Denis O’Brien – Apology”. It even smelled good. Though not sure there wasn’t something  funny going on. Not a newspaper man so can’t be sure but seemed they could have been apologising for the correction, not the bloody mistake. Group  editor, Stephen Rae, no better man, stopped the print presses after he was tipped off by a senior journalist that that woman had written that in practice I control the newspaper. I mean what would she, merely the editor of the flagship title, know about that anyway.

Campbell Spray did what he was told, one in the centre of the beady eye for Anne Harris. The Phoenix claimed she’d agreed severance terms and would leave, after a one-year truce with myself, in October but yar wan was unfortunately right: “the whole story is a lie”.

Still the whole thing reflects so well on me. Honour and Nous. In April last year INM got our banks to write off €138m of an overall debt of €422m, in exchange for a small shareholding. Huzzah. Dermot and Desmond, d’Artagnan and Aramis. Grizzly bears of commerce. They can add that to my €230m acquisition of the Siteserv Group where IBRC, now in liquidation, wrote off €110m of the €150m it was owed and my move on the Topaz Group earlier this year which involved the same fellas writing off slightly more than half of the €304m they were owed.

My purchase of three major Irish businesses over the past two years involved total bank write-offs of more than €300m: €300m, Dr Desmond. Congrats btw on the D Econ and good to see the Nordies remembered Drico the same day. Yours is from Queen’s, mine from UCD. Mere baubles but handy for defusing that middle-of-the-night sense of well tribunalisation.

Sometimes you make me swoon. Our people need us and you just can’t stop the  wisdom of the ages flowing from great businessmen: “Life is not about the things that you leave. Life is about the experience that you leave and the example that you set. Money is replaceable, honour is not”, you said at Queen’s. Fair play. But like  the pro you are you made it clear you haven’t gone all SIPTU.  As to austerity I can only agree with your key insight that “the Government has done a great job and I wouldn’t dare to advise them”.

Noted what you said about beany’s philanthropy. As I always say if you don’t do something decent in  a country where you make a substantial profit you’re a gobshite. Clinton. Never forget mother Protestant do-gooder. Frontline Defenders. FAI. Green Jersey. My people. 910k annually.

Not too much mind you. Digicel subscribers in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, pay $120 for our service. Out of an average per capita income of $800. Not a bloody ATM. Hard edge. Green Jersey.

Digicel having barney with  internet telephony companies, like Viber  and some regulators, in the Carribean. Trying to get fees out of them for providing voice call services using our data network and had to block some of them when they didn’t play ball. Gobshites. And flogged 17 percent of Digicel’s Burmese business to the gobdaws who won the mobile licence there. Shoulda done what we did in Ireland, of course.

Talking of defunct billionaires and philanthropy, planning to give Bernard McNamara, just emerging from bankruptcy in the UK, the contract for the construction of  that new office block on the southeast corner of St Stephen’s Green, the site of the former Canada House. Think of the loyalty I’ll get from the old fox. New tactic, bag the old geysers when they’re down and suck them in: doing it for Cowen; did it for Seanie Fitz, and now Bernard. Loyalty. It’s the  only thing. Green Jersey.

Busy. Recruitment firm China HR, owned by me and Leslie (he got a quarter), has announced a €30m investment programme. We’re the largest Irish-owned employer in China with 2,600 staff in 26 cities across China.

Former head of asset management at the National Asset Management Agency, John Mulcahy – whom I know from Mount Juliet, has just begun advising me on the overseas property empire. Most of my stuff is in Portugal and the Caribbean.

Revenue Commissioners have failed to stop my appeal of their finding that a tax return 14 years ago was insufficient due to the  bit relating to my exchange of shares in Esat Telecom being completed in a negligent manner. I can now proceed with a case arguing the Circuit Court should fully hear my appeal. High Court, ring of steel of course.

Got my hands on the company that publishes ‘Buy and Sell’, Buzreel, after a bids process conducted through the Supreme Court. And dumped €4.7m worth of Aer Lingus shares. No idea what O’Leary doing there: Tony Ryan always preferred Denis.

But enough of me. Congrats in order for snaffling another million shares in Mountain Province Diamonds (MPD), boosting your stake up to an impressive 22.3 per cent – for about €3.5m. MPD owns almost half of the world’s richest new diamond mine, which MPD estimates will generate net cash flow of about $300m annually for at least the first five years. Nice one.

More importantly, I see you installed a nice Norwegian manager (I wonder what phone service he uses!) in Celtic and UEFA on your side. Green and White Jersey. And delighted you enjoyed your recent pro-am with Rampant Rory and his dad at Fota. Only downside according to the IT was that Michael Flatley got diverted and couldn’t join you. Class.