Belfast Telegraph

Battle for control of INM escalates

Enda Kenny said his government will consider "cross-ownership" of the media after an escalation in the battle for control of one of Ireland's largest news organisations.

His comments came after Gavin O'Reilly, chief executive of Independent News & Media, quit following the boardroom struggle with billionaire telecoms and broadcasting magnate Denis O'Brien.

The company will now move on without an O'Reilly at the helm for the first time in the 40 years since Sir Tony O'Reilly bought the group.

The Taoiseach arrived for an event in Belfast shortly after details of the changes were announced.

"I have just heard the news on the way up," he told reporters. "Clearly this is a matter that obviously has been brewing for some time. I don't know all of the details yet, but government in its own way will have a reflection on this in terms of cross-ownership of media."

Mr O'Reilly said he was pursuing new opportunities after 19 eventful years with the company, saying: "It had become clear that recent and public shareholder tensions were proving an unnecessary distraction for both me and the company and this was not in the best interests of the company."

His resignation was described as a compromise agreement aimed at creating a board, management team and shareholders who are unified and aligned for immediate challenges and opportunities.

Shares in the company have fallen about 60% in the last year. They closed in trading at 24p. Vincent Crowley, a chartered accountant by profession, has been appointed chief executive. James Osborne, INM chairman, said he has the unanimous support of the board.

INM has a revenue of about 558 million euro worldwide and employs about 2,900 people with its main interests in the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland, and South Africa.

The dramatic resignation at an afternoon board meeting comes after intense pressure and speculation that Mr O'Brien - the largest shareholder with 22% of the business - would try to force him out at the AGM in June. Mr O'Reilly led the company for the last three years after a turbulent financial restructuring.

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