O’Brien changes the tune at Communicorp
One More Thing: Mark Paul looks at Communicorp, Eddie Hobbs, Jay Bourke et al
Jay Bourke: negotiating on behalf of Nede to take over the Charlie’s II takeaway.
The overhaul of the officer class at Communicorp, Denis O’Brien’s radio group, continues apace. Stephen Kane, who once soldiered for O’Brien on the Central American front with Digicel, has been parachuted in as chief financial officer. Staff were informed of the move during the week.
Kane, a fresh-faced (that will change) accountant was plucked from the reasonably comfortable nest of the mobile operator O2, which is, of course, descended from Esat Digifone, another former O’Brien business. The man is everywhere.
There has been a mini-revolution at the top of the company in recent months. At the beginning of the year, the long-time O’Brien loyalist Paddy Halpenny picked up his coat and hat after 17 years as chief executive of Communicorp.
He was replaced by former advertising executive Gervaise Slowey, who’s sister Vanessa is also a senior Digicel executive in the Pacific. Slowey wasted no time in crow-barring senior management from their seats in group head office, moving them all down to Marconi House to be nearer the troops.
Next to go was Frank Cronin, the loquacious Corkonian who brought a splash of colour as chief executive of Newstalk. He was replaced by former Kingspan executive Gerard Whelan. Then Chris Doyle, the boss of O’Brien’s baby, 98FM, left in May.
The fate of loss-making Communicorp was a known unknown while O’Brien was stalking Independent News & Media, with predictions that he might have to jettison bits of it on plurality grounds it if he wanted to control the newspaper company.
Now that the dust has settled on his war with the O’Reillys he has obviously decided to knock his radio interests into financial shape.
A slick move by Hobbs
Now that the recession has slayed the Rip Off Republic (hasn’t it?), Eddie Hobbs is turning his attention towards the eye-wateringly generous terms on offer for oil and gas companies to drill off the Irish coast.
Hobbs told me during the week that the campaign he is fronting, Own Our Oil – Ooo for short – plans to bring out a book highlighting the mess that is the Irish regime for hydrocarbon exploration.
The campaign sent a pre-budget submission to the Department of Finance last week, calling for a tightening of the terms governing the “flipping” of exploration licences.
Opponents of the group argue the entire system is generous for a reason: Exxon, for example, packed its bags after hitting squat in Dunquin this week.
Hobbs is helping draft a tome on the inadequacy of the regime, with contributions by “business people, scientists and two of the top barristers in the country”. There is even, he says, a senior civil servant involved in the campaign, which is also fronted by Stephen Vard of the well-regarded design agency, the Vard Partnership.
Ooo is also planning an international conference next year, to which industry chiefs will be invited. Let’s hope the campaign’s name catches on. But everything can be tweaked. How about Billionaires Own Our Oil (Booo), or Who Owns Our Oil (Wooo)?
Jay hasn’t gone away, you know
Stubbornness, thy name is Jay Bourke. Battered and bruised, bloody but unbowed, and with several enemies as well as friends in Dublin’s bar and restaurant trade after some bitter financial disputes, you’ve got to hand it to the former star of RTE’s The Mentor – Bourke’s cojones could prop up a house.
Nede, formerly Bourke’s acclaimed Eden restaurant in Temple Bar (it’s the old name backwards, geddit?), is set to expand just a few months after its spring relaunch, his former companies’ litany of creditors will be delighted to learn.