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O'Reilly family gains further support at INM

The shareholders of the family-controlled Independent News and Media have rejected the attempt of dissenting shareholder Denis O'Brien to make key changes to the board.

O'Brien requested the extraordinary general meeting, held on 3 November, to vote on the future of the non-family chairman Dr Brian Hillery and the senior independent director Baroness Margaret Jay. Both have the backing of the controlling O'Reilly family and each kept their positions in the shareholder vote by a 65% majority.

This decision is a further show of support for the O'Reilly family, who O'Brien has been attempting to challenge for the control of the company. Shareholders will reconvene later this month to vote on the proposed restructuring of the company after it defaulted on a debt repayment in May.

Tuesday's shareholder meeting brought to a head what has been an ongoing public dispute between the O'Reilly family and O'Brien. The O'Reilly family is the company's largest shareholder, while O'Brien has the second largest shareholding.

O'Brien stated his frustrations with the family control of the business in a letter to the board in September, where he also questioned the strategy being followed to ease the financial burden on the company. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

Anthony O'Reilly, INM's president emeritus, managed to avoid a direct vote on his position in September when the board rejected this and other proposals put forward by O'Brien. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

Anthony O'Reilly first invested in a small INM in 1973 and has since become the largest shareholder in the business. He served as chairman from 1974-2000 and chief executive from 2000-2009. He was replaced by his son Gavin O'Reilly (pictured), as chief executive in May 2009. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

INM, which had 2008 revenues of €1.47 billion, has suffered from a decrease in advertising revenues for its print publications, including the UK daily newspaper the Independent, that has affected publishers across the world. The Irish group has been attempting to reduce its €1.4 billion of debt since early 2009 by selling off assets such as its South African outdoor advertising business.

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