Denis O’Brien is an Irish businessman who was named to the Forbes list of the World’s Top 200 Billionaires in 2015. He is the founder and CEO of Communicorp, an Irish media holding firm with activities all throughout Europe. It is one of Ireland’s largest media firms, with radio stations such as ‘Newstalk’ and ‘Today FM’. His company also owns the ‘Irish Independent,’ ‘Irish Daily Star,’ ‘Sunday Independent,’ ‘Sunday World,’ and ‘Dublin’s Evening Herald,’ among others. From a young age, O’Brien, who was born into a middle-class family in County Cork, had lofty ambitions. He began working as a bell boy in the Central Hotel in Dublin when he was 14 years old, hardworking and blessed with a natural instinct for business. To supplement his income, he took up a cleaning job at his school. Denis regularly joined his father on his journeys to sell the pharmaceuticals his company created, as he worked as a veterinarian supplier. He then went on to get his MBA. After a few years of employment, he decided to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, purchasing a stake in the Esat Digifone consortium and quickly establishing himself as a prominent player in the Irish media sector. He is now one of the world’s wealthiest persons and Ireland’s richest native-born citizen.
Childhood and Adolescence
Denis O’Brien was born in County Cork, Ireland, on April 19, 1958. He has two sisters and one brother. His father was a veterinary wholesaler.
From a young age, he was interested in making money. He began working as a bell boy at the Central Hotel in Dublin when he was 14 years old. During the summers, he worked part-time jobs and accompanied his father on sales tours for the equine medications his father’s company produced. Through all of these encounters, he honed his entrepreneurial talents.
He proceeded to University College Dublin to study politics, history, and logic after graduating from high school in 1977. He received a scholarship to Boston College and earned his M.B.A. in corporate finance there in 1982.
Career of Denis O’Brien
His first employment after graduating was with Trinity Bank, a small merchant bank in Dublin, as an assistant manager. He, on the other hand, had higher ambitions for himself and applied for a job with Dr. Tony Ryan, the founder of GPA, a Shannon-based aircraft leasing company.
Dr. Ryan was charmed by the young man’s self-assurance and hired him as his personal assistant. GPA was the world’s largest owner of large commercial airplanes at the time, and it was O’Brien’s first exposure to the worldwide corporate world.
He founded Communicorp in 1989, and the company began broadcasting in Ireland the following year. Communicorp began operations in the Czech Republic in 1992, and has since expanded to Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, and Ukraine.
He started Esat Telecom, a telecommunications firm, in 1990. He had previously attempted, but failed, to bid for Ireland’s communications satellite license.
Esat telecom applied for a telecommunications license numerous times during the next few years, finally receiving a limited one in March 1993 from the Department of Communications.
The company began offering services in April of 1994. The next year, he founded the Esat Digifone consortium, which won the second Irish GSM mobile phone license after defeating five other bidders. Esat Digifone grew rapidly over the next few years, and O’Brien sold the company to BT in 2000 for a profit of €317 million.
In 1999, he started Aergo Capital, an aircraft leasing company. The company is headquartered in Dublin, but it also has offices in Chicago, Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Santiago. Aergo is one of the top 20 airplane leasing companies in the world.
After years of being monopolized by Cable & Wireless, O’Brien wanted to expand into the Caribbean. In 2001, he launched Digicel in Jamaica, which was an instant success, attracting over 1,00,000 customers in less than 100 days.
In 2006, he began buying stock in Tony O’Reilly’s Independent News & Media (INM). He greatly extended his ownership in the media house over the years by buying additional shares in the company, eventually becoming the second-largest shareholder behind Tony O’Reilly. By May 2012, he had grown his interest in INM to 29.9%, becoming him the company’s largest stakeholder.
Major Projects of Denis O’Brien
He is the creator and owner of Digicel, a mobile phone network provider with around 13 million wireless subscribers based in Kingston, Jamaica. Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, and Vanuatu are among the 31 markets served by the network.
Achievements & Awards
Denis O’Brien was named a “Clinton Global Citizen” in 2012 as part of an honors program sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative think tank.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1997, Denis O’Brien married Catherine Walsh. Walsh was previously the head of Independent Radio Sales’ marketing department. The couple is the parents of four children.
Denis O’Brien, along with former American President Bill Clinton, was a major time and money investor in Haiti following the tragic earthquake in 2010.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) transmitted funds using Digicel’s mobile network, allowing inhabitants of Haiti to receive free mobile phones and Digicel accounts.
Estimated Net Worth
Denis O’Brien is a wealthy Irishman with a fortune of $5.6 billion. Denis O’Brien founded Digicel Group, one of the world’s fastest expanding mobile operators. O’Brien became a cell phone mogul after profiting handsomely from the mobile phone network provider that operates in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.