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O'Reilly family sees stake decrease in rights issue

The O'Reilly family, the majority shareholder in Ireland-based publishers Independent News and Media, has seen its stake fall from 28.5% to 15% in a rights issue on Tuesday. 

A majority of shareholders did subscribe to the rights issue, which raised the debt-laden publishing group €90.2 million.

Despite seeing its shareholding decrease, the rights issue was the family's preferred course of action, along with the sale of non-key assets, in order to restructure the company's debt. 

Gavin O'Reilly (pictured), second-generation CEO, said: "We are very pleased with the significant take-up of the rights issue and the significant support it has received from shareholders. This, combined with the completion of the company's asset disposal programme announced earlier this week, means that net debt has been reduced by approximately €350 million in 2009."

Rebel shareholder Denis O'Brien, a long-standing critic of the family's control of the business, also took up his rights after the alternative restructuring strategies he suggested were rejected by the board in November. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)

The proceeds from the rights issue will be used to make debt repayments which the company defaulted on in May.

Gavin's father Anthony O'Reilly first invested in a small INM in 1973 and the family has since become the largest shareholder in the business. Anthony served as chairman from 1974-2000 and chief executive from 2000-2009. He was replaced by Gavin 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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