Denis O’Brien to gain control of Topaz

Denis O’Brien is set to gain control of Ireland’s biggest petrol retailer while investment company Doughty Hanson has bought back its loans in TV3.

Mr O’Brien, the founder of the mobile phone company Digicel and a key shareholder in the publisher of this newspaper, is set to buy €304m worth of loans linked to Topaz, sources involved in the sale told the Irish Independentyesterday.

Topaz has 330 service stations across Ireland. Mr O’Brien’s spokesman did not respond to questions.

The Topaz deal is part of a loan auction that also included the debt of businesses including Arnotts and the ‘Racing Post’. Final bids closed last Friday and the special liquidator is now selling the loans in most cases. At least four sale deals have been agreed, it is understood.

Private equity manager Doughty Hanson said last night that it bought €250m debt attached to TV3. David McRedmond, who is the chief executive of TV3, said the deal ended “an uncertain period for the company”.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan welcomed the conclusion of the bidding phase, saying that the special liquidators expect that 84pc of the portfolio will be sold to third parties for prices in excess of the independent valuations.

The remainder will go to NAMA. About €2.5bn face value worth of loans were put up for sale as part of the €22bn IBRC liquidation.

Mr O’Brien fought off Topaz founder Neil O’Leary’s finance company Ion Equity and a consortium that included Mark McGoldrick’s Mount Kellett and Goldman Sachs.

Davy Stockbrokers confirmed last night that partners had bought the €140m debt linked to a management buy-out with financing from Bank of Ireland. Source: The Irish Independent