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Irish Times CEO got €1m payoff as losses mount

THE former managing director of 'The Irish Times' received a €1m payoff after she left earlier this year, it was revealed last night as the company unveiled further losses.

The company's loss for 2009 was €4.6m, but it is believed to have been far larger when redundancy costs and restructuring charges were added.

Maeve Donovan, who stepped down from her position as MD in February, was given a €1m "ex-gratia" payment by the newspaper "relating to a commutation of pension rights agreed with her".

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

Ms Donovan instigated the now infamous "investment and diversification" strategy at the paper, which saw 'The Irish Times' make a series of non-media investments, including a €50m spend on the property website MyHome.ie

The company's annual results are expected to show an operating loss of €4.6m for the year 2009 when they are published today.

The net loss after exceptional items, however, is expected to be significantly more.

Staff were told yesterday that the paper would have to continue to tighten its cost base in light of the results and further paycuts or job losses were not ruled out by management.

'The Irish Times' was also believed to be investigating a possible revamp of its online presence in the hope of charging for access to some online content. A traditional 'paywall', which it dropped two years ago, was not believed to be under serious consideration.

Instead, management are thought to be looking at further revenue streams similar to the paper's iPhone application.


While that application has been deemed a success by management, it has not been able to offset the ongoing losses in the print edition as the advertising market continues to struggle.

While advertising revenue was stable for most of the year, September was believed to have seen revenue slip again.

The company said it believed there was "no level of confidence" that would encourage the advertising business to return to higher levels.

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Last year, The Irish Times Limited booked a loss of more than €95m on the back of a €65m pension-fund hit, investment write-downs and restructuring costs. In March, staff had to take a pay cut of between 5pc and 20pc.

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