O'Brien claims Ganley is suing 'out of spite'
BILLIONAIRE businessman Denis O'Brien has alleged entrepreneur Declan Ganley acted "maliciously" and out of "spite" in bringing court proceedings against him over the award of the State's second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone.
In his High Court action, Mr Ganley contends that Cellstar, a consortium with which he was involved and which unsuccessfully bid for the licence, lost out due to corruption in how the licence was awarded in 1996.
Mr Ganley, and two of his companies, will argue Cellstar would have won the licence had the process for awarding the licence not been corrupted by people including Mr O'Brien, the court was told by Brian O'Moore, counsel for Mr Ganley and the companies.
Mr O'Moore was making submissions to Mr Justice Sean Ryan opposing an application by Mr O'Brien for orders directing two companies of Mr Ganley to provide security for the costs of their court action arising from the award of the licence to Esat Digifone.
The companies say they can fund the litigation via inter-company loans. While agreeing they are not presently able to meet any costs award that may be made to Mr O'Brien, they claim that is a result of how the licence competition was conducted.
The companies are Comcast International Holdings Incorporated, registered in the US, and Ganley International Ltd, registered in the UK.
They, with Mr Ganley, have sued the Public Enterprise Minister; former Fine Gael Minister for Communications Michael Lowry; Esat Telecom; Mr O'Brien; and the State.
The Comcast side has agreed a third plaintiff company, GCI Ltd, cannot remain as a plaintiff because it has been dissolved.
Counsel for Mr O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, said it was anticipated the Comcast action would involve considerable costs which Mr O'Brien contended the Comcast companies would be unable to pay.
He said the Comcast side had no stateable cause of action and their case should be dismissed.
Mr O'Callaghan said the Cellstar consortium had come sixth in the competition – thus, even if their allegations were true, and this was denied, they would not have obtained the licence.
Mr O'Brien contends he has a "good defence on the merits" to the action but claims neither of the two companies has the necessary resources to pay any costs awarded to him should they lose.
The hearing continues.