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
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.
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.
Leslie Buckley is voted off the board of INM as tensions between the O’Reilly family and O’Brien are raised.
Denis O’Brien becomes INM’s largest shareholder following a six-year battle with Sir Anthony O’Reilly.
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.
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.
Robert Pitt is appointed as chief executive of INM,replacing Vincent Crowley in the role.
Data removed from INM and taken outside the country to be “interrogated” by at least six outside companies
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)
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.
INM report to the Data Protection Commission that there has been a major data breach.
Robert Pitt leaves INM.
Chairman Leslie Buckley resigns and is replaced by Murdoch MacLennan.
ODCE makes an application to the High Court to have inspectors appointed to the company. Application is granted in early September.
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.
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.
More upheaval as editor-in-chief Stephen Rae announces plans to step down.
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.
High Court is told of a ‘culture of deference’ towards Denis O’Brien, a claim dismissed by the company.
Announcement that chief financial officer Ryan Preston is to leave company.
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.