Saturday 27 December 2014

Denis O'Brien planning 'massive push' to grow his telecoms business

Businessman also aims to expand Topaz, adding 'I've been investing heavily in Ireland because I believe in it'

Thomas Molloy Group Business Editor

Published 21/01/2014 | 02:30

Denis O'Brien, chairman of Digicel Group Ltd., right, speaks during a meeting at the Hotel Seehoff on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland last year
Denis O'Brien, chairman of Digicel Group Ltd., right, speaks during a meeting at the Hotel Seehoff on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland last year
Businessman Denis O'Brien

BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien plans a "massive push" this year to expand his telecoms business into new mobile and fixed line services.

The businessman, who is the largest shareholder in Independent News & Media, also said the publisher was being "turned around" by a management team led by INM chairman Leslie Buckley, who has also been involved in many other projects with Mr O'Brien.

INM is the owner of this newspaper.

Mr O'Brien said he also plans to expand Topaz, the country's biggest petrol retailer, which he acquired control of in December after he bought the loans from IBRC. "I've been investing heavily in Ireland because I believe in it," said Mr O'Brien.

DIGICEL

Turning to his mobile phone company Digicel, which is active in the Caribbean and Central America, Mr O'Brien said he will invest about $500m (€369m) in infrastructure in 2014 as he battles with Cable & Wireless Communications for control of several markets.

"We think there's great opportunities to go for more market share and new products. We have a massive push," Mr O'Brien told the 'Financial Times' in an interview to be published today.

The tycoon added that he was likely to receive a dividend of around $650m from Digicel in 2014.

He ruled out any "imminent" flotation of Digicel in the interview and said he would keep his telecommunications business outside Europe due to "failed" regulation.

"Europe is not an attractive place to invest, and that's why you have falling free cash flow and when you have falling free cash flow, what do you do, you just cut investment," he added.

CHINA

The 55-year-old billionaire added that he was also looking at other opportunities, including China, where he is a shareholder in a recruitment website.

"We have 4,000 people working for us in China," he said. "We just want to keep expanding that business."

Mr O'Brien may list his recruitment company, which is China's third-largest online recruitment company, in Hong Kong within the next two years, the newspaper added.

The company, called China HR, includes the first jobs website in Myanmar/Burma.

Irish Independent

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