Tuesday 25 April 2017

'Irish Times' suffers an after-tax loss of €27.9m

Don Lavery

The Irish Times Ltd had an after tax loss of €27.9m in 2009, mainly due to restructuring and redundancy costs in the company, while the newspaper also suffered from falling advertising revenues in the recession.

And the former managing director of The Irish Times, Maeve Donovan, received an ex-gratia payment of €1.1m when she retired from the company earlier this year.

The stark 2009 figures emerged yesterday and the latest accounts showed that turnover at the company declined by 25 per cent to €92m.

While circulation revenues fell marginally during the year, advertising income was 42.5 per cent lower due to the effects of the recession, with the newspaper particularly hard hit in the property and recruitment areas.

The Irish Times made an operating loss of €4.6m last year compared with an operating profit of €6.4m in 2008.

Ms Donovan, who instigated the now infamous "investment and diversification" strategy, which saw the company make a series of non-journalism investments, including €50m on the property website MyHome.ie, was paid €319,000 in 2009 as managing director.

When she retired, she dismissed suggestions that she would receive a significant "golden handshake", saying that her package would be "nothing out of the ordinary."

She was given a €1.1m ex-gratia payment "relating to a commutation of pension rights agreed with her."

The Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy received a similar level of salary, €319,000. Their pay was reduced from the 2008 level of €339,000 as part of a programme of pay cuts across the company.

Liam Kavanagh, who was appointed managing director in March 2010, was paid €259,000 in his role as deputy managing director last year.

Deputy editor Paul O'Neill received €173,000 in salary. Both men took pay cuts of 15 per cent in 2009.

Commenting on current trading, Mr Kavanagh said: "Trading-wise, we will break even in cash terms for 2010. In profit terms, there will be a loss because of a depreciation stream." He estimated the group loss for 2010 would be about €8m.

Because of the difficult economic circumstances, he said the company would have to re-evaluate its cost-base. "We are going to work our way through that process and identify where we can achieve savings," he said.

It's understood that further job losses and pay cuts were not ruled out by management who told staff that the paper would have to continue to tighten its cost base in light of the results.

The newspaper company is now hoping to exploit opportunities in digital media.

Sunday Independent

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