Friday 23 March 2018

Tom Lyons: A done deal, but were taxpayers the losers?

The decision not to sell Siteserv to the highest bidder was defended, says Tom Lyons, but some weren't convinced

Tom Lyons

ON the fifth floor of Davy stockbrokers' granite-faced Dublin headquarters a trickle of four grey-haired ordinary-looking men not wearing the usual business uniform filed into a meeting where shareholders in Siteserv, a support services company, were being asked to approve a €45m bid for the company from billionaire Denis O'Brien.

Nonetheless the room was almost full. On one side was a wall of silent suits representing the company and various institutional shareholders and on the other a bank of Irish and international business journalists. Dotted around the meeting on Thursday were the four "civilian" shareholders.

Siteserv is a company few had previously heard of. It employs 2,300 people in Ireland and the UK, doing everything from installing Sky TV boxes to fixing traffic lights. It has a number of brands, including Sierra, a utilities contractor which has contracts with the ESB and Bord Gais.

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