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INM shareholder accuses family of "compromising board's independence"

An ongoing feud between the O'Reilly family, who control Independent News and Media, and the company's second largest shareholder, Denis O'Brian, has escalated with O'Brian calling for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the company's debt.  
 
O'Brian has written to the board requesting the EGM and listing several other demands, including deciding whether to close or sell UK daily newspaper the Independent. He claims the title "is losing €75,000 to €80,000 a day," and is calling for its immediate closure in order to save costs.
 
He also used the letter to vent his frustrations over the family control of the company. He said: "I firmly believe the board still continues to operate very much under the influence and control of AJ O'Reilly and the O'Reilly family, and this is compromising the board's independence and its judgement in these challenging times. At this stage, I believe that the CEO is incapable of pulling this restructuring together."
 
Gavin O'Reilly (pictured), second-generation CEO, responded on Sunday to the letter claiming O'Brian has a "personal vendetta" and should bid for the company if he wishes to control it.
 
Weekend media reports suggest O'Brian is prepared to invest his own capital in the company in order to help its survival, as long as he gains the support of other leading shareholders.
 
The feud has also brought to light discussions between INM and German media giant Axal Springer that took place in previous weeks and could have seen Axal take a controlling share in INM. No agreement has yet been reached between the two companies.
 
The Irish group is attempting to reduce its €1.4 billion of debt by selling off assets such as its South African outdoor advertising business.
 
Anthony O'Reilly retired as company CEO in May but remains as president emeritus still owns 28% of the company. He was replaced by his 42-year-old son Gavin (click here to read our coverage of the story) who took over at a particularly challenging time for the business.
 
Denis O'Brian owns 26% of INM, which recorded revenues of €1.47 billion in January 2009.

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