Trading at INM 'in line with expectations'
Independent News & Media (INM) said its trading performance in the year to date continues “in line with market expectations” in a market update ahead of the group’s annual general meeting in Dublin today.
Overall trading held up despite factors including severe storm weather in March, which hampered the ability to get newspapers into shops, and higher declines in digital advertising than expected, according to a statement released to the Stock Exchange.
However, new chairman Murdoch MacLennan, will tell shareholders today that costs associated with ongoing investigations by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), the Data Protection Commissioner and restructuring of the business will be treated as exceptional charges in the next group income statement.
The high profile probe by the ODCE is likely to be a major focus at today’s shareholder meeting. In a draft of the chairman’s opening remarks released to the market ahead of the event, Murdoch MacLennan said INM had cooperated fully with ODCE requests to date – including responding to 14 requests to hand over books and records, however the group was opposed to the appointment of inspectors to look into the affairs of the company, he said.
“The board believes that it is not in the interests of INM that an inspector would be appointed, and does not believe that the appointment of an inspector would be either justified or proportionate in all the circumstances, particularly given INM’s co-operation with the ODCE and the fact that the Data Protection Commissioner is conducting her own investigation,” the statement says.
“The board is, however, gravely concerned that the appointment of an inspector to INM would have a significantly damaging impact on the Company and all its stakeholders, including its shareholders, employees, members of its pensions schemes, readers and customers. In considering its legal strategy, the Board is acutely conscious that the appointment of inspectors to INM would by necessity result in a very considerable ongoing cost to INM and a continuing requirement to devote substantial resources to dealing with the inspectorate.”
“Let me tell you this: if there was any wrongdoing in the past it was done without the knowledge or approval of the board, and the board is prepared to take such steps as are necessary to protect INM’s interests and to obtain redress from third parties if advised that it is appropriate to do so.”