Thursday 22 February 2018

INM shareholders back €43m capital raise plan

Leslie Buckley, INM chairman (left), and Vincent Crowley, INM chief executive. FRANK McGRATH
Leslie Buckley, INM chairman (left), and Vincent Crowley, INM chief executive. FRANK McGRATH

Thomas Molloy Group Business Editor

SHAREHOLDERS in Independent News & Media (INM) overwhelmingly approved the company's capital raising of €43m yesterday.

New and existing shareholders in the company have committed to contributing through a firm placement and an open offer in the coming week.

All three resolutions relating to the capital raising were passed by shareholders with majorities of more than 99pc.

Businessman Denis O'Brien will maintain his stake in the publisher of this newspaper at 29.9pc following the placement, while financier Dermot Desmond will increase his stake to 15pc from 6.4pc.

Tony O'Reilly will see his stake fall to around 7pc from the 13.3pc he held before the capital raise, assuming the former chairman took part in the open offer.

The capital raising is the final piece in a complex plan to restructure INM's balance sheet and reduce the media company's debt to around €118m, down from about €440m.

"It's the end of a long road," chief executive Vincent Crowley told reporters after the shareholder meeting yesterday.

"There were a lot of moving parts and it wasn't easy."

Mr Crowley said advertising was improving but sounded a cautious note and said the company would continue to cut costs.

"We are having a Christmas," he said. "Advertising is good but is still down year-on-year."

He added that the company was looking at costs and there would be some redundancies.

Both Mr Crowley and chairman Leslie Buckley said it was too early to say whether the company would resume paying dividends. It would take around two years before shareholders would know when dividend payments would be resumed, Mr Buckley said.

Asked by shareholders whether Mr O'Brien had given an undertaking not to take the company private, Mr Buckley said no undertaking had been given by any shareholder but added "equally I don't understand that it is the intention of any shareholder".

There are two main elements to the INM capital raise -- a placement of new ordinary shares to new and existing shareholders and an open offer to those who are already stakeholders in the firm.

INM said yesterday it received valid acceptances for just over 86pc of the open offer. The remaining 13.7pc will be allocated to investors and existing shareholders.

Lenders will own 11pc of the company following the capital raise, while the employee benefit trust will own a further 5pc.

Irish Independent

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