O’Brien makes last ditch offer for INM

Independent News & Media’s major shareholder Denis O’Brien has launched a last ditch attempt to gain control of the media company and close down its struggling London-based newspapers.

The Independent.

O’Brien, who has a 26% stake in the company and has long called for the sell off of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, yesterday (September 23) attempted to seize control and in turn could make the positions of INM chief executive Gavin O’Reilly and chairman Brian Hillery untenable.

He has told lenders that he is prepared to invest €100m (£90m) of his own money in return for gaining control of the Dublin-based company, on the condition that it shuts the London-based newspapers, according to reports.

The cash would be used to pay part of an overdue €200m bond, but his offer would need the approval of INM’s lending banks which are owed a further €1.1bn.

The latest development closely follows an interview this week in which O’Brien told Bloomberg TV that the newspapers could be closed by Christmas.

He said: “There’s no point in us as a company subsidising a newspaper that really nobody wants to read in the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile, the commercial director for the two London papers, Daryl Fielding, is leaving after just 18 months. She will be replaced by Evening Standard advertising director Simon Davies.

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