Saturday 18 November 2017

Bitter war of words goes on at INM over chairman


Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

THE increasingly bitter war of words between the two largest shareholders in Independent News & Media (INM) continued over the weekend, with both sides sparring over INM chairman Brian Hillery.

Yesterday's skirmishes followed a contentious shareholder meeting on Friday that saw Leslie Buckley, a close adviser of Denis O'Brien, voted off the board by institutional shareholders who believed that Mr O'Brien's interests were over-represented on the board.

Mr O'Brien is INM's largest shareholder and had three representatives on the board of the newspaper publisher that owns the Irish Independent among other titles.

Reports in two newspapers yesterday said Mr Hillery (75) plans to retire despite receiving backing from shareholders controlling 99.6pc of all shares.

Mr O'Brien said in a statement that any resignation would present an opportunity to "appoint a new chairman who will have the ability, determination and independence to restore shareholder value as a matter of urgency".

INM rejected Mr O'Brien's comments in a robust statement last night, saying the company "has properly constituted formal and independent processes on corporate governance as well as for ongoing board refreshment and succession planning".

The statement added that any changes to INM's board would be announced to all shareholders in line with the usual rules for companies listed on the stock exchange.

This means Mr Hillery has not informed the board of any intention to retire. "At this time no announcement obligations arise," the statement added.

Meanwhile, gardai last night declined to comment on reports that a British security company had been hired to spy on Gavin O'Reilly, the chief executive of INM.

Security staff at the INM campus in Citywest, west Dublin, last week reportedly became suspicious after spotting a vehicle tailing Mr O'Reilly's car.

Irish Independent

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