Friday 24 November 2017

Digicel's O'Brien rules out IPO 'at the moment'

Businessman Denis O'Brien
Businessman Denis O'Brien

Thomas Molloy Deputy Business Editor

DENIS O'Brien has ruled out selling shares in Digicel "at the moment".

"We like to run our company on a private basis," Mr O'Brien told Bloomberg. "But we have the best practices of a public company", as Digicel sells bonds in the US and Europe.

Mr O'Brien, who is the largest shareholder in the publisher of the Irish Independent, said the decision by Vodafone to sell its 45pc stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130bn (€96bn) was "good news for everybody".

"It has hit a benchmark and you can see recovery now in the value of mobile phone companies," said Mr O'Brien.

Digicel is the largest carrier in Haiti. In June, the company lost out on a licence to expand telecommunications in Burma, despite creating a consortium with billionaire George Soros.

CONFIDENCE

"Obviously, we were crying our eyes out," Mr O'Brien told Bloomberg. "But you wake up, you keep moving. We are probably going to end up having a very large tower business in Myanmar."

Mr O'Brien said the economy here in Ireland was getting better. "There's much more consumer confidence," he said. "We're seeing that the housing market has bottomed out now and is recovering, particularly in urban areas."

The telecoms mogul says he wants to bring the Ryder Cup to his golf course in Spain where buyers pay as much as $3m for homes at the resort.

Mr O'Brien said he had sold about 28 properties last year in his PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, and expected to sell between 40 and 45 this year.

"We're going to go for the Ryder Cup," he said. "We've spent a lot of money on infrastructure, because, unlike a lot of developers in Spain – they try and do it piecemeal – we did the whole lot in one go." (additional reporting Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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