O’Brien at Old Trafford with Digicel, APN and Vanuatu looming large

Businessman had plenty to occupy his mind as he watched Manchester United beat Spurs

 

Denis O’Brien surely had plenty on his mind as he joined Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box at Old Trafford last Sunday for Manchester United’s demolition of Spurs.

As well as mulling the sale of his stake in Australian media company APN, which he offloaded for €80 million four days later, O’Brien was probably also thinking about Vanuatu, the Pacific island that was devastated by Cyclone Pam last Friday.

O’Brien’s Digicel operates on the island and the billionaire had plans to extend its business there. He reportedly met the island’s premier, Joe Natuman, about six months ago to discuss introducing a mobile television service.

The cyclone might put the brakes on that idea for a while. Digicel has been working on restoring its service on the island since the disaster, and the telco flew in a Hercules aircraft from Fiji with humanitarian and network supplies.

Or perhaps O’Brien was thinking about his rivals Cable & Wireless (CWC) and Columbus and their plans to merge in a $3 billion deal. Trinidad telecoms regulators indicated in recent days they will only clear the deal if CWC offloads its 49 per cent stake in Trinidad’s fixed-line operator. Digicel would surely be there to snap it up.

Back at Old Trafford, you would have thought Ferguson has had his fill of Irish billionaires, after tangling bitterly with John Magnier and JP McManus over the Rock of Gibraltar more than a decade ago.

United’s opponents Spurs, incidentally, are owned by former Rangers owner Joe Lewis, a Caribbean-based friend of O’Brien’s pal Dermot Desmond, who controls Celtic, where O’Brien is also an investor.

Lewis and Desmond are members of the Sandy Lane set in Barbados along with Fergie’s foes Magnier and McManus.

All four have co-invested in Mitchells & Butlers pub company.

It’s a small world when you’re one of the super rich.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.