INM shareholders show clear support for board
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.
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".