News. Independent News & Media (INM), Ireland’s largest newspaper group which publishes daily and Sunday papers such as the Irish Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, along with regional titles, has notified the Dublin stock market of a takeover offer from an as yet unnamed source. The current market cap stands at €135m, with €82m of cash in the business. The group’s largest shareholder (with 29.9%) is Denis O’Brien, who previously ousted Tony O’Reilly, the now bankrupt former Heinz president, rugby international, and Irish business superstar. O’Brien bought his shareholding for a total cost of some €500m.
In its expansive heyday, INM was a significant media group in the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. O’Reilly, who was Ireland’s richest man, reportedly lost his fortune in a failed attempt to revive the glass and china manufacturer Waterford Wedgwood – and as a result of borrowings at INM and trading losses, including at The Independent in the UK. The company, which once owned about 200 media brands, was worth a peak €1bn before the 2008 global banking crisis. Potential acquirers for INM may include European groups Axel Springer, Schibsted, Sanoma or a consortium of Dublin based investors. Apparent UK interest from News Corp and the Daily Mail Group is said to have ended at an early stage.