Denis O'Brien must be feeling a bit nostalgic this evening. 

After more than 30 years involvement in Irish media, the businessman appears to be all but exiting the sector here and possibly forever, with the planned sale of Communicorp to Bauer Media for over €100m. 

In many ways, the success Mr O’Brien has enjoyed around the globe all started with his foray into radio, when he won a Dublin licence and set up Classic Hits 98FM in the late 80s. 

This was followed by a move into Europe and quickly became a springboard for the creation of Communicorp. 

It was from this base that he set about successfully bidding for the national mobile phone licence that led to the setting up of Esat Digifone, which in turn created many more opportunities for the entrepreneur here and around the world. 

His interest in radio also proved a catalyst for his investment in print through Independent News and Media. 

It began in 2006 and ended up with him becoming the largest shareholder after boardroom battles, before he sold his stake in 2019 to Belgian group Mediahuis, crystalising a substantial loss. 

It is surely a measure of his affection for it, that Mr O’Brien stuck by Communicorp through thick and thin. 

While some of its stations were quite financially successful, particularly through the heady days of the Celtic Tiger, others such as Newstalk struggled to make their own way and had to be carried. 

So why then, if Communicorp is so historically important to him, is Mr O’Brien exiting? 

That’s not clear and Communicorp declined to do interviews today, but it is probably likely to be a combination of factors. 

The company, like most in Irish media, may require a further injection of investment to ready it for the ever-changing challenges thrown up by the future media landscape. 

And although many predict a dramatic rebound in the economy post the Covid-19 pandemic that should spell good times for media advertising, it still remains very unclear as to when and even if that will happen. 

Mr O’Brien may also be seeking to concentrate his focus on his other big commercial interest – his Digicel mobile phone group in the Caribbean and Pacific. 

It has faced challenges in recent times with a heavy burden of debt and although it has successfully restructured it, more work remains. 

It may also be that Bauer Media made him an offer too good to refuse. 

Bauer already has operations in seven European countries, with 110 audio brands and 55m listeners weekly. 

But what exactly is driving the German company’s interest in the Irish market is also unclear. Its management also declined to be interviewed today. 

It must see value in the Communicorp assets, but the fact it is buying them in the middle of the pandemic shows a level of optimism for the future and is a vote of confidence in the sector. 

What it will bring to Ireland is vast experience of not just radio, but digital audio in the shape of podcasting, apps and streaming services. 

Communicorp has made some strides in this area already, spinning out from Newstalk for example a successful standalone digital based Off the Ball sports brand. 

The company has also successfully married its audio and digital business with its massive stable of print and digital titles, something which may be on the agenda when it settles in Ireland. 

For staff there will be a sense of optimism. 

Communicorp has cut resources in recent years in a bid to keep costs under control, so the prospect of fresh investment and new opportunities for careers across the wider group will be welcomed. 

The move though does mark a further internationalisation of the Irish media landscape. 

In recent years we’ve seen Virgin Media (TV3 as it was then) being bought by Liberty Global and numerous local radio stations being snapped up by the UK Wireless Group, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. 

It also controls a number of national newspapers here and of course Mediahuis now owns Independent News and Media.  

That leaves just RTE, TG4, the Irish Times, The Examiner and Sunday Business Post that are domestically owned and controlled. 

Whether or not you think that is a sign of a competitive and healthy market or something to be more concerned about depends on your perspective. 

But like or not, the Communicorp deal tells us that for now that continues to be the way our media market is headed.