A decade of upheaval: INM from Sir Anthony’s departure to Mediahuis offer

A look back at some of the major events at the media group over the last decade

The INM board on Tuesday accepted a €145.6 million bid from Belgian media group Mediahuis

The INM board on Tuesday accepted a €145.6 million bid from Belgian media group Mediahuis

 

January 2006

Denis O’Brien buys into INM with the stock trading at about €2.54. He later begins publicly agitating about the media company’s financial performance and governance. His stake in INM ultimately rises to just under 30 per cent.

March 2009

Sir Anthony O’Reilly steps down as chief executive, having led the group since 1973. Denis O’Brien appoints three representatives to the board of the company – Leslie Buckley, Paul Connolly and Lucy Gaffney.

June 2011

Leslie Buckley is voted off the board of INM as tensions between the O’Reilly family and O’Brien are raised.

May 2012

Denis O’Brien becomes INM’s largest shareholder following a six-year battle with Sir Anthony O’Reilly.

April 2012

Gavin O’Reilly exits as chief executive. Non-executive director Paul Connolly later sues INM at the Commercial Court seeking to have O’Reilly’s exit package of €1.87 million declared unlawful. The case was settled by the parties in July, on the eve of the judge delivering a verdict.

July 2012

INM’s then chairman, James Osborne and chief financial officer, Donal Buggy, are unceremoniously ousted from their posts at the company’s AGM. O’Brien’s long-time business associate Leslie Buckley succeeds Osborne as chairman.

July 2014

Robert Pitt is appointed as chief executive of INM,replacing Vincent Crowley in the role.

October 2014

Data removed from INM and taken outside the country to be “interrogated” by at least six outside companies

October 2016

Leslie Buckley looks to buy Newstalk, which is owned by O’Brien’s Communicorp media company. This leads to a dispute with chief executive Robert Pitt, who makes a protected disclosure to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE)

November 2016

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which signs off on mergers and takeovers, approves Independent News & Media’s planned takeover of Celtic Media Group. However, both parties walk away from the deal by mutual consent in June 2017.

August 2017

INM report to the Data Protection Commission that there has been a major data breach.

October 2017

Robert Pitt leaves INM.

March 2018

Chairman Leslie Buckley resigns and is replaced by Murdoch MacLennan.

March 2018

ODCE makes an application to the High Court to have inspectors appointed to the company. Application is granted in early September.

March/April 2018

In a series of letters with the board, Leslie Buckley accuses INM of making him a “scapegoat” for the problems that have engulfed the company.

April 2018

INM writes to 19 people (journalists, former INM executives and lawyers) telling them that they had been singled out in the 2014 data breach as “persons of interest” in a trawl of INM emails by external companies paid for by a Denis O’Brien-controlled Isle of Man company Blaydon.

May 2018

More upheaval as editor-in-chief Stephen Rae announces plans to step down.

May 2018

INM issues a summons against Mr Buckley, claiming breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, misrepresentation and damages for negligence and wrongful interference with the company’s economic interest.

July 2018

High Court is told of a ‘culture of deference’ towards Denis O’Brien, a claim dismissed by the company.

December 2018

Announcement that chief financial officer Ryan Preston is to leave company.

December 2018

Documents leaked to the Sunday Business Post suggesting that Robert Pitt had in 2015, after consulting Buckley, authorised the secret parsing of certain editors’ computers.

March 29th, 2019

Former chief executive Gavin O’Reilly begins legal action against INM related to an alleged breach of privacy.

April 4th, 2019

The Irish Times reveals that chief executive Micahel Doorly has raised the prospect of a sale of the group.

April 30th, 2019

INM board accepts €145.6 million bid from Belgian media group Mediahuis. INM chief executive Michael Doorly tells the company’s AGM that it is open to competing offers for the business.