Seen & Heard: O’Brien refinances IBRC borrowings of €300m

Businessman pays full value for loans

Denis O'Brien has refinanced his Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) borrowings of about €300 million, removing them from the ongoing sale process at the bank, the Sunday Times reports.

It writes that the businessman has paid full value for the loans, which are performing. They had been part of the Project Stone pool – about €9.3 billion of mostly commercial property loans. Mr O’Brien had been paying down his borrowings aggressively in recent years, the newspaper notes.

He declined to comment, it said, on suggestions that an international bank had led the refinancing.

Separately, Hickeys Pharmacies, which had challenged the constitutionality of the sale process in a court action that was later withdrawn, has also successfully repaid its borrowings to IBRC, the Sunday Times reports.


HIckeys, one of the largest chains of chemists in the State, agreed a deal with AIB and listed drug wholesaler UDG Healthcare to fund the repayment of its loans at full value, the paper says.

AIB pays more than 100 million to PwC banking team
AIB has paid more than €100 million to a specialist banking team at PricewaterhouseCoopers since 2010, according to the Sunday Business Post . PwC was engaged in late 2010 to advise the bank in the run-up to full nationalisation following the departure of a number of key executives at the bank.

The figure equals the total spent by the National Treasury Management Agency and the Central Bank on consultancy services in relation to all the Irish banks since 2011.

The paper says the PwC team had a key role in running the bank right up to the appointment of current chief executive David Duffy at the end of 2011.

Johnston Press is seeking £75m from shareholders
Johnston Press is looking to raise at least £75 million from shareholders as it works towards cutting its debt pile, the Sunday Telegraph reports.

The regional newspapers group, which owns about 200 titles in Britain and Ireland, will issue shares to investors at a discount as part of a package of measures expected to be published next month, the paper reports.

Johnston Press is looking to offload its remaining 12 Irish titles for about €8.5 million.

Despite a turnaround under current chief executive Ashley Highfield driven by radical cost-cutting and major job losses, most of the cash the group generates continues to go to service more than £300 million in debt built up during an acquisition spree in the decade from the mid-1990s.

The company reported its first rise in operating profits in seven years for the first half of its current financial year, a move that has seen the shares recover from 16p to 26p since the start of the year, but are still trading at about 5 per cent of their peak almost a decade ago.