Light thrown on media group

KARL BROPHY’S application to the High Court relating to the termination of his employment with Independent News Media this week…

KARL BROPHY’S application to the High Court relating to the termination of his employment with Independent News Media this week gives colourful context to recent seismic events at the media group.

Mr Brophy was approached in late 2010 to take on the role of director of corporate affairs and content development. Mr Brophy sought a salary of €350,000, but Mr O’Reilly said he could “only stretch to €300,000” plus a company car or an allowance of €20,000.

Mr Brophy had previously worked for INM from 2001 to 2007 and left a secure job with PR consultancy Hume Brophy, where he was a partner, to rejoin INM on January 31st last year.

Among the documents supplied to the High Court yesterday was a letter from Denis O’Brien to former INM chairman Brian Hillary on July 21st 2011. Mr O’Brien outlined criticisms and called for a new chairman and CEO to be appointed. “In my view, Vincent Crowley would be an ideal replacement for our chief executive,” Mr O’Brien added. “Vincent has all the ability and experience required to immediately assume the role.”


Mr Hillary stepped down to be replaced last October by lawyer James Osborne. In March, Mr Osborne informed Mr O’Reilly of contacts he had with Bank of Ireland, a major lender to the company, and Dermot Desmond and Mr O’Brien, both shareholders.

Pat Gaynor for Bank of Ireland agreed to proposed changes to the company’s debt arrangements, but said “substantial changes to management were required”, Mr Osborne’s memo states.

Mr Desmond said he admired Sir Anthony O’Reilly but felt his son Gavin O’Reilly was “useless”.

Mr O’Brien said he would “definitely” vote against the re-election of Mr O’Reilly, finance director Donal Buggy and of non-executive directors Bengt Braun and Barroness Margaret Jay, at INM’s upcoming annual meeting. He added he had “no intention” of making a bid for INM as he had lost €500 million-plus” on his investment.

At a meeting on April 5th, Bank of Ireland said INM’s level of debt was unsustainable for a company with profits of €75 million.

Mr Brophy’s affidavit highlights how he was sidelined on April 19th in the communication of Mr O’Reilly’s departure as CEO with Mr Osborne using the services of Murray Consultants. “I was astonished to learn this,” he states.

On April 27th Mr Crowley, as the new CEO, told Mr Brophy that his employment was going to be terminated and he received notice of this in a letter this week.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times