Saturday 15 December 2018

Buckley steps down as INM chairman in board overhaul

Appointment of four new non-executive directors proposed, writes Samantha McCaughren

Leslie Buckley
Leslie Buckley
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Independent News & Media (INM) has announced an overhaul of its board, which will see chairman Leslie Buckley step down from the role on March 1.

Buckley's decision follows a period of controversy for the Cork businessman, centring on a dispute with the former chief executive of INM, Robert Pitt, over the possible acquisition of Newstalk and the price that might be paid for it.

The radio station is owned by Denis O'Brien, INM's biggest single shareholder and long-time business associate of Buckley.

The row was brought to the attention of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) after Pitt made a protected disclosure. Pitt left INM last October and was replaced by Michael Doorly.

A legal effort by the ODCE to access files held by Buckley as part of its subsequent INM investigations is due back in the High Court tomorrow.

Buckley has opposed that move on the basis the files are protected by legal privilege. Last Friday Buckley said: "I have taken the decision to retire from the board in March after five-and-a-half years as chairman."

He thanked the board, management and INM staff "for their support during what has been an eventful and challenging time for both the company and for the Irish newspaper industry as a whole".

Allan Marshall, a non-executive director, will also retire from the board in March. He has been a director since he was appointed to the board in June 2012.

INM, which publishes this newspaper and several others, has proposed the appointment of four new non-executive directors: John Bateson, Fionnuala Duggan, Murdoch MacLennan and Seamus Taaffe. An EGM will take place in March.

John Bateson is managing director of International Investment and Underwriting, which he represents on the boards of various companies. He is a nominee of businessman Dermot Desmond, who owns 15pc of INM.

Fionnuala Duggan is managing director of KNect365 Learning, part of the events and conferences division of London-quoted Informa PLC. She has previously established and scaled up digital businesses inside global organisations.

Murdoch MacLennan is deputy chairman of the Telegraph Media Group and was previously its CEO for 13 years. Before joining the Telegraph, he was group managing director of Associated Newspapers. He is chairman of the Press Association Group.

Seamus Taaffe is an experienced non-executive director and financial and management consultant. He was a senior audit partner with KPMG until his retirement in 2009.

Buckley's successor as chairman will be announced shortly after the EGM, the company said.

Sunday Indo Business

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