Independent News & Media has called an extraordinary general meeting for 3 November following a request from its second largest shareholder, Denis O’Brien for the company to vote on a number of radical proposals.
O’Brien is locked in a bitter, public feud with the O’Reilly family, the biggest shareholder in INM, over their stewardship of the Dublin-based company and efforts to sort out its financial woes.
INM said yesterday it would put just two of the nine resolutions originally requested by O’Brien to shareholders at the meeting.
A third resolution – to block the sale of INM’s South African advertising business – would be subject to a separate, dedicated EGM some time in the future.
INM said O’Brien’s remaining demands, which include the immediate sale or closure of the loss-making London Independent titles, would not be put to a shareholder vote because they had ‘no legal effect.’
The November meeting will discuss O’Brien’s call for the removal of company chairman Brian Hillery and the replacement of Baroness Jay as senior independent director.
INM has previously responded to this request by observing that the appointments were previously unanimously approved by the company’s board.
In a circular issued ahead of the EGM, INM said it had recommended the resolutions be rejected by the board, saying the resolutions attempted to interfere with the board’s ‘valid authority to conduct the normal business of the INM’ and ‘risk damaging the trading prospects, staff morale, reputation and ultimately, the integral value’.
The international media business is planning to give bondholders a substantial equity stake in the group in return for a secure financial future – a plan to which O’Brien is opposed.