O'Brien plans commerical development in the Algarve
Quinta do Lago golf and property resort, which Denis O'Brien acquired in 1998
Denis O’Brien is planning a €426 million commercial development in the Algarve, which will significantly expand his business interests in Portugal.
In a recent interview with Algarve Resident, an English-language community newspaper, Mr O’Brien provided details of a major project he is planning in a town called Almancil, which has a population of just under 9,000 people.
He said it was currently in the “approvals process” and had a “projected investment in the initial stages of €426 million, with annualised tax revenue of €114 million in the initial years”.
Mr O’Brien, who is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $5.2 billion, said the project is “capital-ready”.
He added that it would create direct employment for 330 people, “which I believe is something close to half the current unemployment figure in the parish of Almancil”.
A spokesman for Mr O’Brien declined to comment on the investment when contacted by The Irish Times.
The businessman, who controls the Digicel mobile phone group in the Caribbean region and the Pacific islands, also spoke about his Quinta do Lago golf and property resort, which he acquired in 1998.
“It is a great sanctuary of peace and tranquillity, set in beautiful natural surroundings,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said “it has been an incredibly difficult time” for the hospitality industry in the Algarve in recent years, with Portugal part of an EU-IMF bailout programme.
“We saw the industry collapse in 2009, with a drop-off in operational revenues of 35 per cent,” he explained.
“More worrying was the short-term strategy adopted by many hospitality businesses, which engaged in an ongoing price war.
“We continued with our long-term investment roll-out, and I am happy to say that 2012 has been one of the most successful years for the resort ever.
“We are in the fifth year of a €29 million five-year capital investment cycle, and we have already approved the subsequent five-year investment portfolio.”
Mr O’Brien said “some exciting initiatives” would be unveiled in the next few months that would be “game changers” for his businesses in Portugal.
The newspaper asked Mr O’Brien what advice he would give the Portuguese government to encourage economic growth.
“Taxes are necessary, but I am a firm believer that the best way to avoid increasing taxes is to encourage increased levels of business,” he said.
“If you get an increase in capital investment and a subsequent increase in spending, you can avoid having to increase taxes.
“This is the model I would prefer because it leads to longer-term growth and prosperity. It also helps to grow employment and offers great opportunities for young people who are looking for jobs.”