On Saturday, the largest newspaper group of Ireland said that the corporate watchdog of Ireland plans to apply to the High Court to designate some inspectors to investigate Independent News & Media (INM).
The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) of Ireland started an investigation into INM after a clash between the then chief executive and chairman of the of the company in 2016 regarding the terms of a potential acquisition of Newstalk, an Irish radio station.
Communicorp, the parent group of Newstalk, is owned by Denis O’Brien, an Irish billionaire and the largest shareholder of INM with a stake of 29.9 percent.
INM owns the highest selling daily and Sunday newspapers of Ireland. It said that talks regarding the possible acquisition ended at a preliminary stage, and the plans were never considered by the board.
Subsequently, the local media reported that Robert Pitt, the then CEO, made a protected disclosure under whistleblower legislation regarding the circumstances that are surrounding the suggested bid, prompting the investigation by the ODCE.
INM said that it had been informed that the ODCE would initiate an application to the court on the 16th of April for the appointment of an investigator, adding that it was taking some legal advice as to whether the court would have enough grounds to do so.
In a statement, the INM said: “The board and the company’s management remain fully focussed on the business and ensuring that the day-to-day operations are conducted as normal. However, the appointment, if made, could result in the company incurring material costs.”