INM enlists EY to help devise ‘One’ strategy

Company is seeking to move on following acrimonious exit of former chief Robert Pitt

Under former chief executive Robert Pitt, INM forged an integrated editorial identity centred around the group, subjugating the individual brands of its national titles.

Under former chief executive Robert Pitt, INM forged an integrated editorial identity centred around the group, subjugating the individual brands of its national titles.

 

Independent News & Media (INM) has hired consulting firm EY to help it chart a new corporate strategy as part of a project known as the “One Programme”, as the company seeks to move on following the acrimonious exit last month of its former chief executive Robert Pitt.

The consulting firm’s brief is to help INM devise a strategy to “future-proof” the company and help ensure its long-term existence, according to insiders. The One programme will be overseen by the company’s new chief executive, Michael Doorly. INM declined to comment on Monday.

While it is understood the EY engagement is focused on devising a high-level corporate strategy for INM, there is also separate speculation within the group that it is contemplating a rethink of how it presents its newspaper brands.

Under Mr Pitt, INM forged an integrated editorial identity centred around the group, subjugating the individual brands of its national titles, such as the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent and Herald in favour of the group brand.

INM has in recent years, for example, hired group-wide editors for some editorial departments and many of its most senior writers identify themselves externally as INM writers, while many journalists write across several INM titles.

Pitt’s departure

INM’s drive to devise a new strategic direction arrives following a tumultuous period for the group characterised by a litany of corporate governance problems and a boardroom row between Mr Pitt and INM chairman Leslie Buckley, who represents the interests of INM’s main shareholder, Denis O’Brien.

The company is currently the subject of an investigation by the State’s corporate watchdog, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), following a whistleblower complaint by Mr Pitt concerning Mr Buckley.

The row between the two men originally arose out of an aborted proposal for INM to buy Mr O’Brien’s Newstalk radio station. Mr Pitt argued that Mr O’Brien’s asking price overvalued the asset, sparking a row.

The ODCE investigation of Mr Pitt’s complaint about this issue has since widened to also include INM’s handling of a “potential” breach of personal data at the group, which was notified to the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), which subsequently recorded it as a technical “non-breach”.

Notwithstanding the DPC’s decision to record the matter notified to it as a non-breach, the ODCE is examining INM’s wider handling of the matter after encountering information about it during its Newstalk inquiry.