Denis O’Brien props up Communicorp with €7.9m loan

Interest free loans comes in addition to the €85.5m he already gave the group

Denis O'Brien advanced a €7.9 million loan last year to his radio group, Communicorp, recently filed accounts show.

The interest free loan, which Mr O’Brien will not call in within 12 months of the accounts being signed, is in addition to the €85.5 million he has already advanced to the group. In 2015, Mr O’Brien gave a loan to the group of €7.932 million.

In addition to Mr O’Brien’s loan to the group, other amounts falling due after more than one year include loan notes from minority shareholders to the tune of €3.1 million and other long term creditors who are owed €4.75 million.

The accounts for Communicorp Group Limited and Subsidiaries for the year to the end of December 2016 also show that Mr O’Brien was paid rental charges of €475,476 by the company. Additionally, €156,450 was paid to him for “transmitter site rentals”.


Radio stations

The company in question controls a variety of radio stations across Europe. Its Irish operations include Newstalk, Today FM, Spin and 98FM. In the UK, Communicorp stations have a weekly audience of more than 3.2 million while in Bulgaria, it is the largest radio owner and operator in the country.

The group refinanced a number of its smaller loans that were due to mature last year and in 2018 into facilities that don’t expire until 2021. Loans with a face value of €27.3 million and €15.7 million are now both due to mature in 2021 while another €12 million loan will mature next year.

Revenue for the group last year amounted to €83.7 million, €42.8 million of which was gained in the Republic. This, the directors said, was helped by the launch of


As a result of investment in “digital resources in Newstalk, marketing expenditure on TodayFM”, and the launch of Appliances Delivered, Communicorp incurred an operating loss of €600,000 last year. Its total comprehensive loss for the year was €4.15 million, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.

It does, however, have “sufficient financial resources available to be able to continue to invest further in future growth”, it said.

In terms of future outlook, Communicorp chairman Lucy Gaffney said: "The industry shift towards digital revenue has put pressure on all traditional media. As a result, we have reorganised the very core of our radio business, consolidated our sales force and invested further in creative solutions for our advertising partners."

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business