Saturday 25 November 2017

INM chief may not support board resolutions at AGM

INM CEO Robert Pitt
INM CEO Robert Pitt
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

It is not clear whether Independent News & Media (INM) CEO Robert Pitt will vote to support the re-election of his fellow board members or in favour of other resolutions put to the group's annual general meeting (AGM) next month, according to a letter circulated to shareholders yesterday.

At the shareholder meeting on August 23, INM's non-executive directors, with the exception of Jerome Kennedy, who is retiring from the board, will all seek re-election. That is in keeping with the group's practice of non executives putting themselves up for election annually.

CEO Robert Pitt, as an executive director, is not subject to annual re-election.

The election of the directors is among a number of motions - mainly on technical issues such as remuneration, the calling of general meetings and share issuance - proposed under seven resolutions outlined by chairman Leslie Buckley in the letter circulated yesterday.

In his letter, Mr Buckley said the board believes that the resolutions are in the best interests of the company and its shareholders, and recommends that shareholders vote in favour of each, including supporting the re-election of directors at the AGM.

The directors, other than Robert Pitt who reserves his position, intend to vote in favour of the resolutions in respect of their own shares, the letter states.

A chief executive potentially abstaining or voting against resolutions proposed by the board of their own plc would be highly unusual, and highlights tensions at the top of the group behind the country's leading media titles, including the Irish Independent.

Late last year Mr Pitt made a complaint under new whistle-blowing legislation to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

The complaint was made around the time INM issued a statement to the stock exchange confirming that an "issue" had arisen between Mr Pitt and INM chairman Leslie Buckley over a proposed acquisition of radio station Newstalk. That issue is understood to have been around the valuation of Newstalk.

Businessman Denis O'Brien is the largest single shareholder in INM and is also the owner of the Communicorp Group, whose assets include Newstalk.

Irish Independent

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