Chairman quits as UTV director in TVC-link row
Published 24/02/2012 | 08:00
The chairman of Northern Ireland broadcast company UTV Media plc has resigned after 40 years as a director after allegations that his independence had been compromised.
John B McGuckian stepped down following "corporate governance concerns" and issues of "preferential treatment" of a major shareholder.
The executive directors and a minority of the non-executive directors of UTV voted to have Mr McGuckian removed as chairman of the company, while the majority of non-executive directors were opposed to the removal of Mr McGuckian as chairman.
Mr McGuckian is also a non-executive director of a Dublin investment firm TVC Holdings, which owns an 18% stake in UTV - which is cited as the reason that the majority of the board felt he could no longer serve as chairman.
He had been on the board of UTV - which holds the franchise for ITV in Northern Ireland and is one of only three Northern Ireland companies listed on the stock market - since 1970.
He also has other interests in textiles, shipping and also property.
Additionally, Shane Reihill, a non-executive director, and Kevin Lagan, senior independent director, and also the owner of a major Northern Ireland construction firm, have also resigned in what they say is a show of support.
A spokesman from TVC Holdings said: "The actions taken by the executive directors and a minority of non-executive directors to have the chairman removed from his position without following due process were contrary to the UK Corporate Governance Code. For that reason, Mr Reihill considered that he had no choice but to resign from the Board of UTV."
A statement from the UTV board said that the majority of members considered that Mr McGuckian's "close association" with TVC, a major shareholder of UTV, had "compromised his independence to such an extent that they no longer considered it appropriate for him to continue as chairman".
Helen Kirkpatrick, an existing independent non-executive director of the company, will act as interim chairman.
A spokesman for the firm added that there was also an issue of "preferential treatment" towards TVC.
"The board needs to manage the affairs of the company on behalf of all shareholders," he said.
"There was a worry that preferential treatment was being shown and that has prompted today's decision"
Stake Dublin investment firm TVC Holdings has currently in UTV