Business Person of the Month November 2019: David McCourt

Business Person of the Month | Mon 2 Dec | Author – Business & Finance

David McCourt is the Irish-American entrepreneur behind the National Broadband Ireland (NBI) consortium, which signed the contract for the National Broadband Plan in November. 

Irish-American entrepreneur David McCourt, founder and chairman of Granahan McCourt Capital, has been widely known as a transformational force in the technology, media and telecom industries for the last 30 years. The contract was signed on his bid for the National Broadband Plan, through National Broadband Ireland, in November.

Work on the rollout of high-speed broadband—to the 540,000 premises throughout the country currently without it—is expected to begin in January, and could take up to seven years to complete. 

At the signing of the contract, which took place in a school in Laragh, Co Wicklow, an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar commented that he would wager that the cost would come in at less than the €3bn euro budget.

Mr McCourt is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Granahan McCourt, a private investment firm specialising in telecoms and media. The Economist has described him as having “as having “impeccable credentials as a telecom revolutionary”.

McCourt’s first foray into the industry was McCourt Cable Systems, which he started in 1982. He later sold a US phone company, Corporate Communications Network, to WorldCom for $14 billion (€12 billion) and went on to found or acquire 20 companies in 9 countries, ranging around the world from Mexico to Saudi Arabia. 

McCourt was the first person to be recognised by the White House for extraordinary accomplishments by private sector businesses, presented with the award by then-US President Ronald Reagan. He is also an Emmy award-winning producer and winner of EY World Entrepreneur. 

He has invested more than a €100 million in telecoms in Ireland, mainly through his acquisition and expansion of Irish telecoms firm Enet, which he purchased in 2013, and Airspeed Telecom, which he acquired for an undisclosed sum in 2014. Under Granahan McCourt’s ownership, Enet expanded its networks and operations significantly to connect 900,000 citizens through more than 60 service providers. It was the original vehicle for the bid for the National Broadband Plan, but he sold it on to the State-backed Irish Infrastructure Fund and the winning bid was led by his main investment vehicle Granahan McCourt.

National Broadband Ireland says around 650 people will be employed directly and indirectly during the first year of the rollout. Its current team of 60 is expected to grow from 60 to 225 within the first two years.

Business & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business Person the MonthBusiness & Finance, in association with KPMG, rewards excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award. This award seeks to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and, particularly, those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.