Buffet pal and US billionaires shop for distressed businesses in Ireland
Warren Buffet board member on the market for Irish companies
Walter Scott, a US billionaire and Berkshire Hathaway board member, has teamed up with David McCourt, principle at Granahan McCourt Capital, in Boston, to shop for distressed assets in Ireland.
McCourt said they are looking at telecommunications businesses “but not Eircom” and they’re “staying away from real estate for now".
Scott, a childhood friend of Warren Buffett’s and director at his company, Berkshire Hathaway, holds a stake in the company worth $13million (€9.75m). He also chairs the $7.5 billion-capped Level 3 Communications, which boast the Irish Internet company Servecast for $40 million.
His father started Kiewit, an Omaha based billion dollar construction company, which turned its hand to telecom, fibre-optics and the power-plant business.
He is a staple on the Forbes rich list having made billions from the Berkshire Hathaway's acquisition of MidAmerican Energy in 2000.
Scott is business partner and mentor to McCourt, the Irish American working as their emissary in Ireland. McCourt has spent two weeks meeting with representatives of several Irish banks and several companies.
The Sunday Independent reports that they may be signing on four deals.
McCourt said “Walter and I looked at Ireland. With €135bn worth of assets to be sold, it looks like there are options here. We are talking to a number of companies that have either been in default on loans or are about be, or where the banks are about to, or already have taken over.
“If they're good businesses with bad balance sheets, we could be helpful,” he said.
Some these plans involved a partnership with restructuring specialist Gores Group, which has been linked with a move for Greenstar Recycling.
He continued “We're interested in any business that we feel we would understand, where we have a view on where it's going to go and respect the management. The balance sheet can be broken but not the business.
“We like to go where there has been lots of disruption or change -- the more change the better. Incidents of change allow us to have an advantage over bigger companies. We have less baggage.”
The Boston Irish businessman first worked with Scott on Kiewit’s London venture – to design cable television and telecom networks for the European market.
McCourt is on the University College Dublin Smurfit business school advisory board and also JP Morgan Chase’s. He is also estimated to be worth $1 billion.
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