INM dismisses O'Brien's call for sale

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The Independent Online

Independent News & Media, the publisher of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, yesterday said its priority was to achieve "a final and lasting resolution of the group's financial restructuring for the benefit of all stakeholders" following the request for an extraordinary general meeting by its second-largest shareholder Denis O'Brien.

The company, in a statement to the Stock Exchange, also said "solid progress" was being made on its debt reduction strategy.

INM added: "While the company is fully aware of Mr O'Brien's personal views on a number of matters as a result of press interviews conducted by him, it notes that a number of the resolutions proposed by Mr O'Brien for consideration are at variance with decisions previously taken by the board of INM."

Mr O'Brien has submitted eight resolutions he wants discussed at the EGM, including a call for the sale or closure of the Independent titles and the removal of Brian Hiller as chairman, together with the appointment of a new senior independent director to replace Baroness Jay.

He also wants a halt to the planned sale of INM Outdoor, the South African advertising company, and other items including requisitioning board expenses back to 2000.

However, INM said the appointments and sale of INM Outdoor had been unanimously approved by the board – including representatives nominated by Mr O'Brien – while progress was being made on eliminating losses at the Independent titles. Closure would incur "significant costs".

The company added: "It is difficult to see therefore how Mr O'Brien's actions assist in the resolution of the financial restructuring, which the board believes is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders."