Ex-Eircom boss Donovan faces another blockbuster debt problem at Odeon

Cinema chain’s €512m debt pile described as ‘unsustainable’ by Standard & Poors

If the internet, delivered via the infrastructure of companies such as Eircom, has destroyed the movie rentals business, then what a neat little twist to observe the problems mounting for former Eircom chief executive Paul Donovan, who now runs the Odeon cinema chain.

Donovan left debt-addled Eircom shortly after its restructuring in 2012.

Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the deep fat fryer. In recent weeks, Standard & Poors said Odeon’s £400 million (€512 million) debt pile is “unsustainable” in the long run, and downgraded it to junk.

Donovan, a clever chap, must now overhaul the capital structure of Odeon, which operates about 10 cinemas in Ireland and 240 overall across Britain and continental Europe. After arm-wrestling with Eircom's debts for so long, it must feel like a never-ending horror franchise for him.


Guy Hands, who controls the Terra Firma private equity outfit that owns Odeon, says it is fine for cash and that it doesn't need any more capital for now.

Donovan features in a video on Youtube, posted about a year after he left Eircom, in which he describes why he hired strategy consultants Mentor to help him tackle the problems at Eircom, and the approach he took.

Hopefully he still has their number on his phone.