O'Brien ups his holdimg in INM to 18.6pc stake
Businessman Denis O'Brien yesterday increased his stake in Independent News and Media (INM) to 18.6pc. He is now the largest single shareholder in INM, the publisher of this newspaper.
Mr O'Brien owned 13.8pc of the media group before yesterday's transaction.
Market sources said Mr O'Brien acquired 168m shares -- equivalent to a 4.8pc stake -- in the market yesterday morning at 11.5c a unit.
It is believed the stock was sold by Bank of Ireland's treasury arm, which had acquired the stock as part of INM's debt-for-equity swap deal last December.
Last year INM issued 723.2 million new ordinary shares to its bondholders in settlement of a €200m debt that was due to be repaid last May.
Prior to the share issue, Mr O'Brien had built up a 26pc stake in the company.
Shares in INM closed yesterday at 14.1c each, marking a 53pc gain from just before the group unveiled its 2009 results late last month. "It's a show of renewed confidence and the stock is reacting very well," one media analyst said yesterday.
Most analysts are now rating the stock as 'buy'. A report by analyst Mark Braley of Deutsche bank last week said INM's comprehensive disposal and de-leveraging process had made INM investible again.
"This is one of the best sets of newspaper assets: structural growth in South Africa; at a very deep trough in Ireland; Australasia turning now," he said. "With 50pc-plus upside to our 0.18c target we raise our recommendation to buy."
At its annual general meeting last month, INM chief executive Gavin O'Reilly said "INM remains a highly profitable company with rock-solid margins that have only one way to go." He said that if these current trends continue, he would target an improvement in operating profits for 2010.
The group also sold its British titles, 'The London Independent' and 'Independent on Sunday'.