Full response to governance issues - O'Reilly


Independent News & Media (IN&M) last night rejected claims from businessman Denis O'Brien that it had not provided full answers to questions he asked about its governance.

Group chief executive Sir Anthony O'Reilly earlier said the group responded fully to Mr O'Brien, who questioned his expenses in one of seven letters.

"As a member of the board, I think all the answers that were given to the letters clearly indicate that there is not a scintilla of evidence, a rather nice word, that shows that we have in any way been guilty or attempted to circumnavigate any of the laws and the customs and accounting conventions that we should," Sir Anthony said.

"This company is a very transparent company. I hope that that has been established to your satisfaction here today."

However, Mr O'Brien questioned the contention of IN&M director Brian Mulroney that the group responded in full to him. Any examination of the responses would reveal they were "devoid of detail", he said.

"Unfortunately the board of Independent News & Media has failed abysmally to respond to and deal with the serious matters of corporate governance raised in the letters. These are matters we will return to," he said.

The letters requested full disclosure on a range of matters, including expenses paid to Sir Anthony for entertainment. "The expenses for which details have been sought are not included in the annual report."

Having questioned Mr Mulroney's independence in a report on IN&M's corporate governance, Mr O'Brien noted the meeting heard he received payments totalling €100,000 for being "the eyes and ears" of IN&M in Canada, the US and South Africa.

In response, IN&M said all resolutions put to the meeting were approved and that all questions asked by its shareholders were comprehensively answered.

"Earlier this week, the company also replied in a very comprehensive manner to questions posed in a series of seven letters from Mr Denis O'Brien. Today's agm offered a unique opportunity to Mr O'Brien or his representatives to seek clarification to any of the answers provided."

Mr O'Brien noted that IN&M chairman Dr Brian Hillery promised greater disclosure in communicating with shareholders, including in the annual report.