O'Brien increases stake as tycoons feud over INM

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Denis O’Brien has increased his stake in Independent News & Media, the parent company of the Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, to 16.4 percent.

For several months, the Irish telecoms billionaire has been increasing his stake in the company, accusing it of having poor corporate governance under his rival, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, and calling for it to sell off the loss-making Independent and Independent on Sunday.

Last June, a report commissioned by O’Brien charged that INM is in “danger of being branded a ‘crony’ firm that serves Sir Anthony’s interests over those of minority shareholders.” The company rejected his allegations, insisting that it has the “highest corporate governance standards” and warned that it would issue defamation proceedings if it did not receive an apology.

“It’s one of the poor examples of a plc. It’s dominated by one person,” O’Brien told the Telegraph in September.

“What I’m trying to do is force change – put proper governance in. The company can do a lot better with a proper board.”

In December, after O’Brien last increased his stake in the company, O’Reilly responded by increased his own stake to 26.12 per cent. The company also rushed out an upbeat trading statement.

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