Cantillon: Denis O’Brien pens reply to ‘FT’ article

Responds to piece on his media investments

Denis O Brien: Replied to FT article

Denis O Brien: Replied to FT article

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 01:01

Denis O’Brien, the largest shareholder in Independent News & Media which reported its full-year results last week, has written to the Financial Times to challenge a recent article by its media correspondent, Henry Mance.

“I categorically do not seek to interfere editorially with any of my media operations (or any other media operations for that matter),” the billionaire helpfully explained to the FT .

O’Brien said he read Mance’s almost full-page report entitled “Irish media kings invest in their critics” with “bemusement”.

The Malta- and Caribbean-based businessman, writing from his Dublin 2 address, dismissed any suggestion he had invested half a billion in INM shares in order to “stop its media channels from writing negative comments about my business affairs, as is heavily implied”.

Mr O’Brien said “if” this was his plan it had been a “spectacularly unsuccessful strategy”.

The owner of six Irish radio stations and largest shareholder in the country’s biggest newspaper group dismissed any suggestion he had too much influence in Irish media. “The chart on ‘Companies’ influence in Irish media’ [published in the FT ] completely ignored TV, online and other forums, utterly distorting its market share conclusions from the modern day reality,” O’Brien said.

Mr O’Brien also gave his views on the mistakes of the past. “When I invested in INM, I did so because I believed it had strong assets and was a well-managed business, with excellent growth prospects. As soon as I realised the scale of the mismanagement at INM, I tried to do all I could to change the management. Any shareholder worth his or her salt would do the same thing.” O’Brien said that “many smaller shareholders” have “privately voiced their support of my actions, which were nothing if not transparent and above board”.

One wonders if that increasingly small shareholder, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, was among them.

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