Saturday 21 October 2017

INM shareholders show clear support for board

INM chairman Leslie Buckley (left) with CEO Vincent Crowley before the start of the AGM
INM chairman Leslie Buckley (left) with CEO Vincent Crowley before the start of the AGM

Thomas Molloy Deputy Business Editor

INDEPENDENT News & Media (INM) shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of re-appointing all non-executive board members at the publisher's annual general meeting.

The endorsement is the latest sign that the publisher's biggest shareholders appear to have reached a consensus on how to deal with the company's problems after past feuding.

Paying tribute to chief executive Vincent Crowley, chairman Leslie Buckley noted that Mr Crowley was operating with a "united and supportive board" and later said he hoped board "shenanigans" were over.

Mr Buckley added that the publisher of this newspaper was "well-positioned" to cut its debts by almost three-quarters by late December as it consolidates and sets its strategy for the future.

"I believe we are now in a much better place than we were half a year ago," he added.

Mr Buckley said the company's debt-reduction plan was "progressing apace" and the business was now well set to benefit from any economic recovery in Ireland. The company is currently reducing its debts from some €422m at the end of last year to about €118m by the end of 2013.

Transition

Mr Buckley said the debt-reduction programme "has been a painful transition for all stakeholders" but added it was a "necessary one that transforms the company's prospects and our capacity as a board to begin the process of rebuilding shareholder value".

Shareholders also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to give 5pc of the company's shares to staff who are expected to see significant reductions to pensions.

A plan to sell extra shares worth around €40m was also progressing well and the sale was likely within five or six weeks, he added.

The chairman declined to name a date for the resumption of dividends. With the company now mostly focused on the island of Ireland, the chairman said INM was focused on transitioning to a digital environment.

That transition is now "well-advanced" and he added that there was a "clear vision of our future direction".

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