CHAIRMAN OF MEDIA group Independent News and Media Leslie Buckley is to stand down from his post.
Buckley will exit the company at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held on 1 March in Dublin.
“I have taken the decision to retire from the board on 1 March after five-and- a-half years as chairman,” Buckley said in a statement today.
I would like to thank my board colleagues, the INM management team and all the great people who work for the company for their support during what has been an eventful and challenging time for both the company and for the Irish newspaper industry as a whole.
Buckley’s successor will be announced ‘shortly after’ the EGM according to the company, which publishes the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent among other titles. Allan Marshall, a non-executive director at the company, will also retire from the board in March.
“Leslie has been a very strong leader of INM’s board during what has been a difficult and challenging period for the company at a time of great change in our industry,” the company said in a statement.
We note in particular, the very strong financial base INM now has following his term as chairman. The financial restructuring led by Leslie in 2013 has cleared a legacy deficit in excess of €430 million, to a position today, where the company has a cash surplus in excess of €90 million.
Buckley reportedly had a falling-out with INM’s ex-CEO Robert Pitt in 2016 over the price the company might pay in a mooted takeover-bid for radio station Newstalk.
In the aftermath of the abandoned bid, Pitt allegedly made a whistleblower disclosure regarding what had transpired to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).
In March 2017 INM confirmed that it was complying with an order from the ODCE “to produce books and records” in relation to the reported bid.
The group issued a statement at the time to confirm that “an issue arose” between the two board members “in relation to the terms of a possible acquisition”. Pitt eventually resigned to ‘pursue other interests’ in October 2017.