Actually it’s a bit more than that, he says he offered £1bn to Rupert Murdoch to buy his entire News International publishing business in the UK although News says Desmond only offered to buy the Sun, the UK’s biggest-selling tabloid paper.
Well you have to admire Dessie for his chutzpah, if nothing else.
Even Rupert Murdoch might jib at selling The Times and Sunday Times to the keen amateur drummer from North London.
About Channel Five, which he bought a couple of months ago for just over £100m, Desmond says it’s heading into profit for the first time in its history as he’s cut £34m of costs, exactly what it lost on a turnover of £270m last year. £10m of this has come from sacking directors and senior management who were earning a lot and enjoying large bonuses under previous owner Bertelsmann, despite making a thumping loss.
Dessie, by all accounts, is not the nicest man to work and neither is his chief henchman Stan Myerson. But sometimes you need a couple of bruisers to shake things up a bit. The very notion that already well paid executives at Five (as it was) should be receiving bonuses when the station was losing £34m is clearly ridiculous.
But it’s no different to what happens in various other echelons of the UK. Bankers get guaranteed bonuses, so, it would appear from recent revelations, do many doctors and hospital consultants, the fortunate beneficiaries of a crazy drive by the last Labour government to treat the public sector like the private sector.
So has Desmond, at this late stage, gone from villain of the piece to a good thing?
That would be pushing it a bit far. But the numbers, if what he told Management Today was correct, are impressive.