Duke University emerges as shareholder in INM

Duke uses investment firm Blackwell to manage endowments and pension investments

US college Duke University has emerged as a shareholder in the troubled publisher of the Irish Independent and Evening Herald.

Farringdon, an investor owned by Dutch hedge fund manager Bram Cornelisse, filed notices with the Irish Stock Exchange following a reorganisation of the 6.8 per cent that it holds in Independent News & Media (INM).

While Farringdon's stake in the publisher has not changed, the filings show that it is split between another investment firm, Blackwell Partners, with 4.36 per cent, and a vehicle called Farringdon 1, with 2.44 per cent.

The documents show that Blackwell holds its stake along with Duke University and Gothic Corporation, a non-profit company linked to the third-level institution.

According to reports, Duke regularly uses Blackwell to manage endowments and pension investments on its behalf.

The filings state that Farringdon Capital Management, which Mr Cornelisse owns, is the delegated adviser for both Farringdon 1 and Blackwell, and exercises both vehicles' voting rights.

Durham, North Carolina-based Duke is one the best known third-level institutions in the US, where it is regularly ranked among the country’s top 10 universities.


US universities regularly invest endowments – mostly cash donations from rich individuals or companies – in stocks or other assets.

Elite Ivy League colleges were among the biggest backers of US hedge funds when they first emerged in the 1980s.

Farringdon is INM’s third-largest shareholder. The company’s biggest is media and telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, who owns 29.9 per cent.

He spent about €500 million acquiring this stake. It was worth about €30 million on Wednesday.

Businessman Dermot Desmond is the publisher's next biggest backer with 15 per cent.

INM has had a troubled year. The State’s company law watchdog, the Office of Corporate Enforcement, is investigating allegations of illegality at the group.