Independent News & Media

Independent News and Media plc
Industry Media
Founded Dublin, Ireland (1904) by William Martin Murphy
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
Key people
Robert Pitt, CEO,[1] Leslie Buckley,[2] Chairman
Products Newspapers, magazines, radio, education and other media activities.
Revenue € 318.7 million (2014)[3]
Number of employees
Approx. 1,000 (2014)[3]

Independent News & Media plc (INM) is a media organisation based in Dublin, Ireland, with interests in 22 countries on 4 continents[4] worldwide. The company owns over 200 print titles, more than 130 radio stations, over 100 commercial websites and many billboard locations, and is a leading press player in five countries.[4] According to The Guardian, it has "long been at the centre of controversy, due to the journalistic output of its main titles - the Irish Independent (the Indo) and the Sunday Independent (the Sindo)."[5]

The INM group of companies was dominated by Tony O'Reilly and his family between 1973 and 2012. Denis O'Brien now controls Independent News & Media, as acknowledged by the company's own newspapers and employees.[6]


The company was formed as Independent Newspapers Limited in 1904 by William Martin Murphy, as the publisher of the Irish Independent.

In 1973 (Sir) Tony O'Reilly acquired 100% of the "A" shares of the company from the Murphy and Chance families, and was later forced to bid for the "B" (non-voting) shares. The company was later floated on the Irish Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange.

The group expanded overseas, acquiring interests in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In 1999, the company name was changed to Independent News and Media plc.

O'Reilly was CEO until early 2009, one of his sons, formerly COO, Gavin O'Reilly, became CEO in early 2009, and two others were non-executive directors for many years. O'Reilly himself resigned as CEO on 19 April 2012 and was replaced by Vincent Crowley. O'Reilly had come under pressure in recent months from two of INM's largest shareholders, billionaire Denis O'Brien and financier Dermot Desmond.

As of May 2012, Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien holds a 29.9% stake in the company,[7] making him the largest shareholder. This compares to O'Reilly's family stake of around 13% (June 2012).[8] 5% of the holding company is held by Clear Channel Communications, transferred in return for control of a South African outdoor advertising firm.

On 26 April 2013, INM announced it had concluded a deal with its bankers to exchange part of its debt for up to 20 per cent of equity. The deal was subject to the sale of its South African newspapers, a reduction in staff levels of 10%, a capital raising, and the restructuring of the company's pension plan.[9]



The group owns a number of national newspapers in Ireland, the Evening Herald, Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Sunday World and 50% of the Irish Daily Star, as well as 14 regional titles, two free newspapers, and a magazine. It has a substantial central website,, which includes much regional as well as national content, and an archive, though this can only be browsed, not searched. It also claims to have Ireland's "no. 2 job site" and the "largest property website on the island.

In 1993, the group bought into the now defunct Sunday Tribune, in which it owned 98% of the issued share capital and over which it has considerable influence. As INM technically only held 29.9% of voting shares and so lacks management control, it did not consolidate the results of the Tribune, which is loss-making, with accumulated losses of around €45 million since acquisition.[10] The Tribune went in to administration and closed in February 2011.

For many years, the main printing facility was in Abbey St. in Dublin but this is now at Citywest.

The group launched Independent Colleges, which has its base on Dublin's Dawson Street in 2007.

The purchases of the People Newspaper Group includes titles Ireland's Own, the Wicklow People, the Wexford People and the Waterford People.[11]

United Kingdom

The Independent (of London) was bought for around €100 million in 1997 and up until March 2010 the title had made cumulative losses of least €150 million. The Independent and the Independent on Sunday newspapers were sold to a company controlled by Alexander Lebedev in March 2010.[12]

During 2007, INM opened a new full-colour Goss printing press facility in Newry, Co. Down. The press the Goss Flexible Printing System known as the FPS was the first FPS sold by Goss Preston.[13]

The Belfast Telegraph Group was bought for around €400 million in 2001, and is highly profitable, making perhaps €30 million annually.[10] The group which publishes the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life, Ads for Free, and also owned the now-defunct Ireland's Saturday Night. It also produces the widest-distributed jobs magazine in the London area.

South Africa

Until 2013, the group is the second biggest newspaper publisher in South Africa, owning 14 newspapers including The Star and Pretoria News in Gauteng, the Daily Voice, Cape Times, Cape Argus and Weekend Argus in Cape Town, The Mercury, Post, Isolezwe, Daily News, Sunday Tribune and Independent on Saturday in Durban, the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley, as well as the national Sunday Independent and 13 community newspapers in Cape Town. The group's titles account for 48% of the total advertising spend in paid newspapers,[14] 22% of all newspapers sold in the country, and 63% of the English language market.

In mid-2012, speculation began that INM would sell their South African operation.[15] This was later confirmed. INM had initially hoped for 250 million EUR for INM SA, however bids came in at around 150 million EUR.[16] Cape Town businessman Iqbal Surve's Sekunjalo Investments consortium were the front-runners to purchase INM SA.[17] Inititally Sekunjalo was set to take a 75% stake in the consortium, but this was changed to 55%, with the remainder going to two government entities. The first of these is the investment arm of the SA government, and the second, an investment arm of the Chinese government.[18] Commenting on the deal University of the Witwatersrand journalism professor Anton Harber said that "the ANC is working with their Chinese allies – ruling party to ruling party, in the way the Chinese government so often works – to increase their influence in our local media and counter what they view as a hostile media sector."[19]

Bloomberg reported that Denis O'Brien met Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, during a private meeting at the Hotel on 24 January 2013. He also met the broker negotiating the sale of INM SA.[20]

Australia and New Zealand

The company owns a stake in APN News & Media Limited, a large newspaper publisher in Australia and New Zealand, which owns The New Zealand Herald and other newspapers, and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

On 12 February 2007, INM announced that the board of APN had recommended an all-cash revised offer of A$6.10 per share for the entire issued share capital of APN.[21] The subsequent bid to take APN News & Media Ltd private in May 2007 was unsuccessful.

INL owned approximately 30% of APN at mid-2012.


INM previously entered into the Indian market, purchasing 20% of Dainik Jagran, the publishing company behind India's best-selling paper. This market has been identified by INM as being a key element of its move into non-English speaking media markets with huge growth opportunities and potential for advancement. Since the initial investment INM deepened its involvement by buying 20% of the radio business of Dainik Jagran. The intention is to establish eight radio stations in the so-called "Hindi Belt".

In August 2010, INM sold its entire stake in Dainik Jagran.[22] INM no longer have any Indian interests.

Other interests

INM also held stakes in the Unison ISP and the iTouch electronic payments and premium rate telecoms operator, the controlling stake in the latter later being sold to a Japanese firm.


The company formerly held a 50% stake in Chorus Communications, the second largest cable television and MMDS operator in Ireland, having acquired this with a merger between Cable Management Ireland, and their own Irish Multichannel. However this was sold in 2004.

The Group

The chief executive is Vincent Crowley having succeeded Gavin O'Reilly in the role on 19 April 2012. O'Reilly had been CEO since 2009. The chairman is Brian Hillery, former Fianna Fáil politician and now a governor of the Central Bank of Ireland. The holding company website is and the group website is


There have been questions about the policy of not consolidating the 98%-owned but loss-making Sunday Tribune, and on the other hand the practice of consolidating entirely the massively profitable APN News & Media, which is less than 41%-owned. In the half year to June 2007, for example, the group reported operating profits of €155 million – but this excluded €1.5 million of losses from the Tribune, and included €85 million from APN (whereas a proportionate share of profit would have been, at that time, €32 million).[10]

There have also been questions about APN, which was acquired in transactions involving both the group and the O'Reilly family, and profited the latter greatly, and about the massive level of group debt (over€1.3 billion). Furthermore, there have been complaints about the level of power of the O'Reilly family, the independence or otherwise of the board, and about the costs of O'Reilly as CEO, with second-largest shareholder Denis O'Brien and others having noted travel costs from O'Reilly's primary home in the Bahamas, company payments towards his now second home in Kilcullen, near Dublin, on top of large salary and other contributions.[10]

The groups' failure to cover the controversy surrounding INM director Brian Mulroney has also been criticised. Mulroney was the subject of an inquiry by Canadian Privy Council because of his part in a scandal involving the purchase of Airbus by Air Canada, and also his relationship to German arms' dealer Karlheinz Schreiber.[23]

The group's relationship with a variety of entertainment and public relationships firms via Clear Channel Independent has also been seen as problematic.

Independent News and Media was identified by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) as an employer where "bullying" and "lack of support" was rampant. The survey said 93% of the respondent claimed they didn't receive proper support from the management and 20% of them complained of bullying at work. The survey also claimed 96% of the respondent complained that they had to work overtime and 55% of them said they were forced to do so. INM declined to comment on the survey. [24]

See also


  3. 1 2 "Annual Report 2014" (PDF).
  4. 1 2 Dublin, Ireland: Company website, group profile, retrieved 16 June 2008
  5. "The importance of the Irish Independent". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  6. "Irish newspaper editor's column was changed after going to press". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014. Denis O'Brien is the majority shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29% of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does.
  7. "Denis O'Brien ups stake in Independent News & Media to 29.9pc -". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  8. Sweney, Mark (2012-06-08). "INM investors oust chairman and finance chief". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  9. "INM strikes deal with banks". Irish Sun. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Dublin, Ireland: The Phoenix, Stocks & Shares, Moneybags: 25 Jan 2008, "Tony O'Reilly outmanoeuvres Denis O'Brien"
  11. "INM Service Group Websites". Independent News & Media. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  12. "Independent titles sold to Lebedev family company". The Independent. London. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  13. Independent News & Media PLC (30 September 2006). "Interim Report 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 January 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2007.
  14. Archived 5 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "Speculation in South Africa over INM's plans". The Irish Times. June 14, 2012. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012.
  16. "Offers for INM's SA unit fall short | IOL". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  18. Craig McKune (15 August 2013). "Chinese companies scoop shares in Independent News". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  19. Geoffrey York (September 11, 2013) Media agenda: China buys newsrooms, influence in Africa The Globe and Mail
  20. "Billionaire O'Brien Finds Linger-Free Zone in Davos Meets". Bloomberg.
  21. Independent News & Media PLC (12 February 2007). "APN BOARD RECOMMENDS OFFER OF A$6.10 PER SHARE BY INM LED GROUP" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2007.
  22. "INM sells stake in Indian newspaper group". Campaign. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  23. "Brian Mulroney: The Unauthorized Chapter". CBC News.
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