Banks write off over €300m in three deals with Denis O’Brien

Deals saw businessman invest €230 million to acquire Siteserv Group, Topaz Group and Beacon Private Hospital

Billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien has recently added the Beacon Hospital, Topaz Energy and others, to his portfolio. Colm Keena takes a look at the steady stream of Irish acquisitions by the businessman over recent years. Video: Darragh Bambrick

Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 07:03

The purchase of three major Irish businesses over the past two years by the billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien involved total bank write-offs of more than €300 million.

The deals saw the businessman invest €230 million to acquire the Siteserv Group, the Topaz Group and the Beacon Private Hospital.

The Siteserv deal saw the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which is now in liquidation, write off €110 million of the €150 million it was owed. Mr O’Brien’s move to become the major shareholder in the Topaz Group earlier this year involved the IBRC writing off slightly more than half of the €304 million it was owed.

Beacon Hospital

Last month, Mr O’Brien bought debt of approximately €100 million due to Ulster Bank for a reported €35 million in a deal that gave him control of the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Co Dublin.

Mr O’Brien, who has a 29.9 per cent stake, is the biggest shareholder in the Independent News & Media. In April last year the group did a deal with its eight banks, which include AIB and Bank of Ireland, where the banks wrote off €138 million of an overall debt of €422 million, in exchange for a shareholding in the group worth approximately €10 million.

The Topaz Group was purchased by Mr O’Brien using Kendrick Investments Ltd, an Isle of Man company incorporated in July of last year. Siteserv was bought using another Isle of Man company, Millington Ltd, incorporated in December 2011 to buy the Irish services group.

In March this year Kendrick entered into a mortgage arrangement with the Bank of Ireland, with the Topaz business among the mortgaged assets, according to its filings in the Isle of Man. No charge has been registered against Millington.

Mr O’Brien is not tax-resident in Ireland and his Digicel group is headquartered in Bermuda. The Isle of Man does not impose corporation tax on most companies and does not have capital gains tax.