The O’Reilly family’s 39-year control of Ireland’s Independent News & Media has come to an end, following the resignation of family member and chief executive Gavin O’Reilly.
In a statement on 19 April, the family-run newspaper group said O’Reilly has stepped down from his position and was to be replaced by non-family Vincent Crowley, currently chief operating officer.
The move follows a period of increased pressure from INM’s two largest shareholders to reduce the family’s grip on the media business, well known for publishing the Irish Independent. Billionaires Denis O’Brien, who holds a 22% stake in INM, and Dermot Desmond, with roughly 6% of shares, have long since wanted to oust second-generation O’Reilly, claiming his management has led to a fall in shareholder value.
“It had become clear that recent and public shareholder tensions were proving an unnecessary distraction for both me and the company and this was not in the best interests of the company,” said O’Reilly in the statement.
His exit from INM, which his father Anthony bought in 1973, will mark the first time in the group’s 39 years of family control that an O’Reilly is not at the company helm.
“The board and I agreed that what the company needs now is a board, management team and shareholder base that is purposefully unified and aligned for the company’s immediate challenges and for the many opportunities that exist in the future,” he added.
O’Reilly, whose family owns just over 13% of the group, took over the chief executive role from his father in 2009. INM reported preliminary revenues of €558 million last year, down from more than €625 million in 2010.
The group also operates in Australia, through its stake in APN News & Media Limited, and publishes a number of daily newspapers in South Africa.