Why has Jerome Kennedy stepped down at INM?

Company did not set out any reason for senior independent director’s departure

INM is entering the video production game in a joint venture with producer Larry Bass. Photograph: Frank Miller

INM is entering the video production game in a joint venture with producer Larry Bass. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

What exactly has prompted Jerome Kennedy, the senior independent director of Independent News & Media, to step down from its board?

The company did not set out any reason for his departure on Friday when it announced that Kennedy, a former managing partner of KPMG, is stepping down at the conclusion of its agm next month.

When the internecine feud over an INM-Newstalk bid flared up last year between chief executive Robert Pitt, and the chairman and Denis O’Brien’s ally Leslie Buckley, it was to Kennedy that Pitt originally complained.

A board sub-committee looked into the matter and concluded there was nothing to see here, move along now. The show’s over. Except the show was only just beginning.

Obviously displeased with the result of the investigation of his complaint to Kennedy by the board, Pitt strolled down to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to blow the whistle on the row.

Scrambled

Blindsided, INM scrambled to conduct its own independent review of what had happened, and hired David Barniville, a senior counsel, and Stephen Kingon, the former managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Northern Ireland, to conduct it.

Their report must now be in the final stages of preparation. The review will examine the treatment of the complaint Pitt made to Kennedy.

There is no guarantee that INM will publish this report to its shareholders, even given the intrigue that exists over the nature of the split between CEO and chairman.

Joint venture

But whether or not that review is published – and it really ought to be – its findings will surely have to be communicated in advance to the people who are named in the report.

It will be interesting to see what conclusions the report draws about the interactions between Pitt and Kennedy before the existence of the row became public knowledge on the pages of The Irish Times.

Meanwhile, INM is entering the video production game in a joint venture with producer Larry Bass. It should produce a boxset... on itself – a drama, based upon the incredible goings on in its boardroom over the last year.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

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