A representative of Independent News and Media (INM) shareholder Denis O’Brien today lost his position on the board of the company.
The highly unusual development occurred at the group’s AGM in Dublin following a vote in which 57pc of shareholders voted against Leslie Buckley's return to the board.
Mr Buckley is the first director ever voted off an Irish plc. He ceases to be a director of INM with immediate effect.
Mr Buckley said he accepted the vote, but, in a statement issued after the AGM he called on the group chairman and chief executive to consider their positions.
He accused CEO Gavin O'Reilly of 'actively canvassing' shareholders to vote against his re-election, describing this as 'bizarre'. Mr Buckley claimed that chairman Brian Hillery was aware of this.
After the AGM Mr O’Reilly denied the accusation and said that Mr Buckley should be careful about making such statements. He said Mr Buckley’s problem was the institutional shareholders had voted 5:1 against him
Mr Buckley, who represented Mr O’Brien’s 22.02% interest in the company, voted against the adoption of the directors' report, saying he wanted to register his concern about how the board was run.
In his statement he said that although INM had made progress, he was 'extremely frustrated' by the lack of movement in the digital and online area
Earlier, John Bateson, a representative of Dermot Desmond who owns 2% of INM, said there had been a shocking performance by the board and that it was responsible for the “destruction of shareholder value' .
Shareholders were told that the company is targeting an improvement in trading profits in the second half of the year.
Chief executive Gavin O'Reilly warned shareholders at its AGM in the Aviva Stadium Dublin this morning that advertising conditions remained tough.
“We note that while advertising conditions still remain challenging and short-term, we continue to target a year-on-year improvement in Group Operating Profit for 2011, coupled with further significant deleveraging,” he said.
The update was in keeping with a trading statement last month, which showed advertising revenue for this year down almost 8pc on 2010.
INM, owner of independent.ie and Ireland’s leading newspapers, has described the Irish market as being 'very short-term and erratic' and yet to stabilise.