Wednesday 13 December 2017

Low-profile e-learning tycoon Pat McDonagh was previously a schoolteacher and encyclopaedia salesman, but made hundreds of millions from success with CBT Systems and Skillsoft in the 1990s, and later with Riverdeep. At one stage during the dotcom boom, his 53pc stake in the latter was worth a whopping 800m. He sold more than 260m worth of shares.

The Baldoyle-based businessman took a huge punt on development land in recent years, and emerged as a backer of New Generation Homes founder and Arklow man Greg Kavanagh's well-timed strategy of buying land at or around the bottom of the market and then selling it on or developing it for massive profits.

It's thought that the gamble involved buying upwards of 100m worth of sites. This is likely to have paid off handsomely for them both — Kavanagh sold his stake in various residential and commercial property assets he'd bought with backing from M&G Investments last October. McDonagh was also a shareholder in Olhausen, a sausage business, as well as digisoft.tv, a tech firm.

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