Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has said that any attempt by Denis O'Brien to take control of Independent News & Media (INM) would be a matter for the Competition Authority.
The businessman has increased his stake in the newspaper company by 5% to around 27% after buying another €10m worth of INM shares yesterday.
Mr O’Brien made the purchase of nearly 33 million INM shares at noon yesterday at a price of 34.5c per share — 24% higher than the 27.8c the stock was selling for at the time. The company’s share price jumped by more than 15% to 32c following news of the transaction.
The move comes a fortnight after Gavin O'Reilly stepped down from this role as IN&M chief executive, to be replaced by former chief operating officer Vincent Crowley.
If Mr O’Brien increases his stake in INM above 30% this could trigger an automatic bid for the entire company, under takeover rules.
Speaking today, Minister Rabbitte said that while Mr O'Brien has not yet reached the threshold to make a full bid for the business, any such move would be examined under current legislation.
"The existing law applies until the new law is put in place, and the existing law would require, in the event of him making a bid that would exceed the threshold, that would in the first instance be a matter for the Competition Authority, and thereafter for the Minister," he said.
Additional reporting: Irish Examiner