O'Brien's new proposal to INM bondholders

Dissident shareholder Denis O’Brien is believed to have made fresh approach to the bondholders of Independent News & Media earlier this week in the hope of blocking the financial rescue deal put together for the troubled newspaper group by chief executive Gavin O’Reilly.

On Tuesday, the board of INM agreed, in principle, to support a debt restructuring plan proposed by O’Reilly that would see bondholders owed €213m take a 46 per cent stake in the business and massively dilute the holdings of O’Brien and the O’Reilly family.

In doing so the board spurned an alternative deal from O’Brien’s that would have seen him take a 67 per cent stake in the business in exchange for an injection of €100m.

According to the Irish Times, O’Brien is now believed to have made a revised offer to bondholders understood to include an improved package but not going so far as to meet the entirety of their €213 million liability.

One source told the Irish Times the approach, which would give O’Brien majority control of INM, included a proposal to sell the South African outdoor advertising business to which he’d previously been opposed.

O’Brien has continued to stress his opposition to the company hanging on to The Independent and Independent on Sunday – he either wants them sold off or closed immediately – the leaked details of his new proposal make no mention of what fate he plans for those titles.

Adoption of the O’Reilly rescue plan is likely to secure the future of the papers for a number of years at the very least.

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