Incoming INM chief says Independent titles not for sale
LONDON - Gavin O'Reilly, the new chief executive of Independent News & Media (INM), has quashed rumours regarding the imminent closure or sell-off of the loss-making Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers.
Gavin O'Reilly: taking over from Sir Anthony O'Reilly
Speaking to Media Week, O'Reilly said the titles' imminent move from Canary Wharf to the Kensington home of the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) will "substantially eradicate" the losses at the newspapers which, according to O'Reilly, "lost between £9m and £9.5m" last year.
He said: "There are no plans to sell off the titles. The move is all about eliminating our losses across the papers." He added that the move could save around £10m a year.
In January, INM issued a statement saying it was to focus on "eliminating any loss-making businesses" suggesting it would be open to offers for the London-based Independent titles.
O'Reilly, though, said the papers had a long-term future within the group.
While refusing to rule out the further sharing of resources with the DMGT group -these, he said will, be concentrated on back office functions such as IT operations. He ruled out the sharing of editorial resources.
O'Reilly's comments follow his appointment today (Friday 13 March ) as new chief executive of INM replacing his father, Sir Anthony O'Reilly, with immediate effect.
In a statement to the City, the group announced that Anthony O'Reilly, INM's largest shareholder with a 28.5% stake, will retire on his 73rd birthday, on 7 May.
The group also announced a restructure to its board, which could be viewed as a move to appease dissident shareholder Denis O'Brien, who had been involved in a war of words with Anthony O'Reilly over the strategic direction of the company.
Gavin O'Reilly said today's announcement, which will give O'Brien three seats on a slimmed down board, meant that "the war is over".
He said: "There has been a lot of heat around this issue and some of the press coverage has been nauseating. Today's move means that we are firmly on the same page."
The INM board will shrink in size from 17 to 10 over the next three months, before its annual general meeting on 12 June.
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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