Carr Communications managing director quits

 

Carr Communications managing director Dermot McCrum has unexpectedly left the firm after selling his majority shareholding to co-directors Donal Cronin and Fergus Hoban. Senior consultant Tom Savage also left yesterday, only days after the departure of his wife, Terry Prone.

The company declined to provide any information about the reasons for the resignations of its controlling shareholder, who had been with the firm since 1982 and led a buyout in 2004 with Mr Cronin and Mr Hoban.

"I had to consider some events that occurred within the company and I decided the thing to do would be to resign and sell my shareholding," Mr McCrum said.

Mr McCrum declined to specify the nature of the events in question, but said he reached agreement on his departure a fortnight after engaging in talks last December. He was reported to have told staff in an address yesterday that his decision was sad but unavoidable "in order to stay true to my beliefs and values".

Among the most prominent companies in the public relations, training and communications sector, Carr has a client list that includes some of largest private and public organisations in the State. Blue-chip companies such as AIB, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and KPMG are on its books, as are the Revenue, the Companies Registration Office and the Road Safety Authority.

Sources close to Carr said Mr Hoban now owns some 70 per cent of the firm and Mr Cronin owns some 30 per cent following the transaction with Mr McCrum, who previously held 52.5 per cent of the shares. It is understood Mr McCrum received more than €2 million for his interest in the firm. Mr Hoban held 22.5 per cent and Mr Cronin held 25 per cent.

The founder of the Unicare pharmacy chain, which he sold in 2002 to German group Celesio, Mr Hoban also owns consulting firm Touchstone Healthcare.

Touchstone's chief operating officer Tony Hughes, who previously worked with Carr, has rejoined the firm as managing director. Many of Carr's clients are in the health sector, among them the Department of Health, Bon Secours Health System and drug group Eli Lilly.

In his remarks to staff, Mr McCrum is reported to have dismissed a report that characterised him as "pulling rank" on Ms Prone. "Frankly, I find that just laughable, as does everyone who knows me and Terry," he is reported to have said.

"In fact, I'm meeting Terry and Tom this morning to let them know everything that has happened this morning and to thank them personally."

A consultant in the business for some 25 years, Ms Prone was managing director of Carr and a shareholder prior to the buyout led by Mr McCrum. Her co-shareholders were company founder Bunny Carr, Dominic McNamara, Frances Fox and Mr Savage.

The firm's statement said media and presentations training, its core activity when Mr Carr started out in the 1970s, now represents 20 per cent of the business.