Doorly to usher in new era at INM as Pitt ex­its

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

sta­tion New­stalk — owned by De­nis O’brien, a close busi­ness as­so­ciate of Buck­ley and the largest share­holder in INM, pub­lisher of the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent and other ti­tles.

The dis­pute was un­der­stood to have come down to the price INM might pay for the sta­tion — with the ceo’s ad­vis­ers sup­port­ing a lower price than Buck­ley’s. Pitt brought the mat­ter to the at­ten­tion of INM’S (now for­mer) se­nior in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor Jerome Kennedy, and a board sub-com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished to look into the mat­ter. The board — with the agreed ab­sence of Pitt and Buck­ley — had unan­i­mously adopted the sub-com­mit­tee’s re­port that no is­sue of con­cern arose.

But that was far from the end of the mat­ter. Pitt took his com­plaint fur­ther, mak­ing a pro­tected dis­clo­sure to Ire­land’s com­pany law watch­dog, the ODCE. INM es­tab­lished its own “for­mal in­de­pen­dent re­view”, car­ried out by a se­nior coun­sel and a gover­nance ex­pert.

As the row dragged on, it be­gan to hurt the com­pany. In half-year re­sults pub­lished in July, the com­pany said: “Prof­itabil­ity has been di­rectly im­pacted by costs as­so­ci­ated with the in­de­pen­dent re­view and meet­ing the re­quire­ments of the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Cor­po­rate En­force­ment.” Le­gal costs for the row ex­ceeded €1m by this point and con­tin­ued to rack up.

De­spite the ten­sions mak­ing their way into the pub­lic do­main, no res­o­lu­tion proved forth­com­ing — and Pitt and Buck­ley re­mained in situ all the way to the INM agm in Au­gust.

The cir­cu­lar dis­sem­i­nated prior to the meet­ing had in­di­cated that Pitt “re­served his po­si­tion” is re­la­tion to Buck­ley’s re-elec­tion to INM’S board. Sure enough, when the meet­ing took place in front of a packed room in Dublin’s West­bury Ho­tel, Pitt did not raise his hand when Buck­ley’s re-elec­tion to the board was put to the meet­ing.

It was the most dra­matic mo­ment yet and is be­lieved to have been the first time in Ir­ish cor­po­rate his­tory that the ceo of a plc did not sup­port his chair­man in a pub­lic vote.

If any­one thought that Pitt and Buck­ley’s work­ing re­la­tion­ship might be able to func­tion de­spite their dif­fer­ences, there was no com­ing back from the agm. An exit pack­age was agreed last week. Al­though INM has re­port­edly set aside €2m for de­par­tures of se­nior man­age­ment this year, Pitt is be­lieved to have re­ceived just a por­tion of that sum.

And so it now falls to veteran Doorly to bring INM into a new era of growth at a time of un­prece­dented change in the me­dia, bring­ing with it great chal­lenges and great op­por­tu­nity.

In­de­pen­dent News & Me­dia sec­re­tary Michael Doorly (left) has been ap­pointed new in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive of INM af­ter the de­par­ture of Robert Pitt

INM has cash on its bal­ance sheet of over €85m

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