Business Irish

Sunday 11 December 2016

Desmond joins 'homeless' billionaire in gold punt

Published 08/08/2010 | 05:00

Billionaire Dermot Desmond has taken a punt on a gold mine in Colombia which is backed by a former homeless man who became a billionaire and married a Playboy centrefold model.

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Mr Desmond now holds a 6.8 per cent stake in Nevada-registered Universal Gold Mining Corporation, which is listed on US markets.

The stake is held through his IIU Nominees investment vehicle.

In June, the company raised close to €4m in a placement to fund the further development of gold exploration projects. It owns a 50 per cent stake in the Tolfrida prospect near Bogota in Colombia.

The company is also backed by the John Paul DeJoria family trust, which owns a 13 per cent stake. Mr DeJoria was briefly homeless in Los Angleses before setting out to make an estimated $4bn fortune in cosmetics and hair products. He also owns the Patron tequila brand, a diamond company, Harley-Davidson dealers and energy businesses. He is married to Miss April 1988 Playboy Playmate Eloise Broady. He has made cameo appearances in such Hollywood movies as the 2008 Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess With The Zohan, as well as on a number of TV shows.

Mr Desmond has invested in the gold mining sector before. He was an early backer of Richard Conroy's firm Conroy Diamonds and Gold, which is developing potentially Ireland's largest gold prospect at Clontibret on the Cavan/Monaghan border.

The IFSC financier, who also controls Celtic Football Club, has also invested in diamonds through his ownership of a 23 per cent stake in Mountain Province Diamonds.

The Canadian listed company is trying to progress a diamond mine project in the remote icy tundra of northern Canada. Other backers of the company include Scottish exploration veteran Harry Dobson -- once a shareholder with Mr Desmond in Manchester United.

Sunday Independent

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