Tuesday 25th October 2011
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Independent News & Media has named James Osborne as a director to succeed Brian Hillery as chairman with immediate effect.
The announcement by the Ireland-based owner of a 31.6 percent stake in Australia's APN News & Media, publisher of The New Zealand Herald newspaper, comes after a call for Hillery's resignation from dissident INM shareholder Denis O'Brien.
That was rebuffed by Gavin O'Reilly, INM's chief executive and son of shareholder Anthony O'Reilly. O'Reilly senior is a former chairman and chief executive of US food company HJ Heinz Co and was inducted into the International Rugby Board's Hall of Fame in 2009.
Osborne is a former chairman of Heineken Ireland. During 35 years with Irish law firm A&L Goodbody he established a presence in the United States and led the firm from 1982 until 1994.
He worked on the listing of Ryanair and has served on its board since 1996. He is also a director of Australian building products company James Hardie Industries.
He has held non-executive directorships at the Bank of Ireland, Golden Vale, Adare and Carrolls Holdings.
O'Brien, a billionaire who owns telecommunications company Digicel, said in an interview with Reuters earlier this month that he wanted INM to restructure its balance sheet, raise capital, pay down debt and try and diversify its revenues into digital and other media offerings.
INM said the appointment of Osborne followed an independent search conducted by Lamarck Ltd, a specialist London-based search and advisory firm.
Hillery said he informed the board last November that he planned to retire and agreed to serve until a suitable successor had been identified.
"I have served on the board for eight years and have greatly appreciated the support of shareholders. I have had the privilege to work alongside excellent directors and management.
"After some recent challenging years for the company I am happy that this appointment marks the beginning of a new chapter in its history and I wish James well in his new role," he said.
Osborne said INM was Ireland’s largest and most successful media group.
"My predecessor Brian Hillery has successfully piloted the company with great resolve and commitment through some very difficult times and he retires from a company that is leaner, more focused and better positioned for future growth."
Shares in subsidiary APN were unchanged at $1.12 on the NZX, having shed 57 percent this year.
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