Ganley to go to court over lost mobile licence bid
ONE MORE THING:THERE WAS some confusion earlier this week about who exactly the Supreme Court had given the go-ahead to in relation to claims arising from the 1995 mobile phone licence competition.
In one case, that of the second-ranked bid in the competition, Persona, the plaintiff’s identity is clear. Persona is now owned by Irish businessmen Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley. They are seeking damages from the State.
The second case is less clear. The sixth-ranked bid (of six bids) was the Cellstar consortium, which was not a legal entity. One element of the consortium, US cable group Comcast, is named as a plaintiff in the case. However, it is now clear it has withdrawn.
Other members of the consortium, RTÉ and Bord na Móna, were never involved. This leaves the Galway businessman Declan Ganley. He is seeking damages not just from the State but also from businessman Denis O’Brien, and from Esat Digifone, winner of the 1995 competition.
Ganley’s 15 per cent involvement in Cellstar was by way of an Irish company, GCI Ltd, which was dissolved in September 2003.
In 2007, Ganley’s solicitors agreed it could not be a party to the licence proceedings. Another of his companies, UK company Ganley International Ltd, was also at one stage a party to the proceedings, on the basis it was engaged to provide assistance and advice to Cellstar. Ganley has also agreed this entity can be dismissed as a plaintiff.
That leaves him personally. He bases his involvement on a February 1997 assignment by GCI (his company) to him, of the company’s interest in Cellstar’s bid and any claim that might arise.
It is understood the details of this assignment and the issue of what consideration was paid for it are likely to form part of any hearing.
Ganley has stated he is determined to press forward with the case. He is understood to be of the view that the damages at issue should be assessed in terms of the potential the licence had for wealth-creation. (Esat was sold in 2000 for in excess of £2 billion.)
Boyle and McGinley are understood to have a more restrained view as to what is at issue.
One thing seems certain: all parties will have to spend considerable amounts if the case goes ahead, and court outcomes are rarely a sure thing.