Businessman is best known for ill-fated Stentor venture


Patrick Cruise O’Brien has been involved in telecoms and broadband companies, writes ARTHUR BEESLEY

BEST KNOWN as a chief executive of the ill-fated telecoms firm Stentor while still in his late 20s, Patrick Cruise O’Brien’s current business activities are chiefly in the broadband arena.

Mainly based in London, in recent years he has been a proponent of a wireless broadband access system called WiMax, which stands for “worldwide inoperability for microwave access”.

Backed by computer chip giant Intel, the system is used in Ireland by Irish Broadband.

Cruise O’Brien was secretary general of the WiMax Spectrum Owners’ Alliance (WiSOA), a company that represented the interests of about a dozen privately-owned companies that use WiMax spectrum.

Official records in Britain show that the company was dissolved last April.

Although Cruise O’Brien kept a low public profile in recent years, he is a shareholder in a number of other companies in Ireland and Britain.

His current investments include shares in Dublin-based Fastnet Broadband Holdings, of which he is a former director, and WiMax Capital Management in London, a subsidiary of a Malaysian company called Yeoh Tiong Lay Sons Holdings.

The most recent accounts for WiMax Capital Management, for the period to June 2008, show that it had not yet commenced trading in that period but had committed to make payments of €300,000 in 2009 and 2010 to WiSOA.

A graduate in history from Trinity College Dublin in 1991, Cruise O’Brien worked for a Democratic Party policy institute in Washington and for the European Commission before launching his business career.

Stentor, whose focus was on business technology, had a brief and turbulent existence as a stock market company, listing on the Alternative Investment Market in London in April 1996 at a price of 72 pence.

Struggling to break even, by 1998 it was shipping losses at a rate that distressed auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Stentor lost IR£6.7 million in the year to March 1998 and was a further £5.4 million in the red only five months later.

Despite an injection of funds, it lost £11.17 million in the year to the end of March 1999.

By the following year it was no more, having accepted an offer from Northern Ireland telecoms group

Nevada paid 29.3 pence cash per share for Stentor, whose stock was priced at the time at 28p sterling. It was once worth 195p.

Companies Office records show that Cruise O’Brien’s sister Margaret Cruise O’Brien is a director of MCOB Technology, a software consultancy and supply business whose registered office is in Navan, Co Meath.

The court action for possession of the house they own at Howth Summit appears to reflect the adoption of new policies vis-à-vis defaulting borrowers by Irish Nationwide Building Society since it came under new leadership in June.