Mr. O’Brien founded Esat Telecom Group (“Esat”) in 1991 to compete against the former state-owned telephone company in Ireland, Eircom plc. In October 1997, Esat, of which Mr. O’Brien was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, listed on Nasdaq (New York), Easdaq (Amsterdam) and the Iseq (Dublin). Esat, over a five-year period, raised $1 billion in equity and bonds in a number of successful U.S. and European public offerings.
Esat established itself as the number two telecommunications company across the full spectrum of telecommunications services (corporate and residential), fixed-line, GSM mobile, data and Internet services and brought real competition and choice to the Irish telecommunications market. Esat Telecom Group plc was sold to British Telecom Group plc in January 2000 for $2.8 billion. Mr. O’Brien was voted Ireland’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 in the inaugural running of the worldwide competition organized and sponsored by Ernst & Young.
Mr. O’Brien is also a director of a number of private companies, which hold some of his other business interests including Quinta do Lago SA, Topaz Energy Group Limited and Communicorp Group Limited. In addition, Mr. O’Brien is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and a member of the board of Concern Worldwide.
He holds a B.A. from University College Dublin and an MBA from Boston College, and he has an honorary Doctorate of Laws from University College Dublin. Mr. O’Brien is also Chairman of Digicel Holdings Ltd. and Digicel PNG, subsidiaries of Digicel Group Ltd. Mr. O’Brien has been Chairman of the board of directors since 2000.