CEO Pitt leaves INM af­ter chair­man row

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Faye Whi­ite

ROBERT Pitt is to leave his po­si­tion as chief ex­ec­u­tive of In­de­pen­dent News and Me­dia, bring­ing an end to a lon­grun­ning board­room bat­tle.

Mr Pitt and the com­pany’s chair­man, Les­lie Buck­ley, fell out over an aban­doned pro­posal for INM to buy the ra­dio sta­tion New­stalk, which is owned by De­nis O’Brien.

The two men’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives were in talks in re­cent months in an ef­fort to re­solve the dis­pute.

Mr Buck­ley is a long-term as­so­ci­ate of Mr O’Brien, who owns a 29.88% stake in INM.

Mr Pitt felt that the ask­ing price for New­stalk was too high and he re­fused to pay it.

He made a whistle­blower com­plaint about his deal­ings with Mr Buck­ley to the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate En­force­ment (ODCE), the State’s cor­po­rate watch­dog.

Ryan Pre­ston, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, made a pro­tected dis­clo­sure in­ter­nally at INM on sim­i­lar grounds to Mr Pitt’s.

In a short state­ment re­leased to the stock ex­change yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, the com­pany said that Mr Pitt had de­cided to leave the com­pany, of which he has been CEO for three years, with ef­fect from to­day, ‘to pur­sue other in­ter­ests’.

It is un­der­stood that INM has reached a set­tle­ment with Mr Pitt; how­ever, the terms of this have not been dis­closed.

The ODCE is con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the ar­gu­ment over the New­stalk deal.

An in­de­pen­dent in­quiry com­mis­sioned by INM’s board failed to reach a con­clu­sion due to Mr Pitt and Mr Buck­ley’s con­flict­ing ac­counts of talks about the New­stalk deal.

In Au­gust, Mr Pitt re­fused to pub­licly back the re-elec­tion of Mr Buck­ley as chair­man of the com­pany at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing. Nev­er­the­less, Mr Buck­ley re­tained his po­si­tion on the board.

How­ever, Mr Pitt’s de­par­ture from INM does not nec­es­sar­ily mean an end to the ODCE’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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