Speaking to reporters after the group’s AGM, yesterday, chairman Leslie Buckley said that very good progress had been made in the search for a successor to the recently departed Vincent Crowley and that the process was at a fairly advanced stage.
Mr Buckley said that candidates from a variety of sectors had been looked at and management was “fairly close” to making its decision. When pressed on a timeframe, he said he was hopeful that the board would, at least, be in a position to make an announcement in time for INM’s half-year results presentation in August.
Mr Buckley added that the new CEO would be “a critical appointment” for INM, in that they would be responsible for driving the business into the next decade. He said that newspaper publishing would be a very different business from 2020 onwards and that “a lot of consolidation” should be expected within the media industry over the decade.
Earlier, when asked by one shareholder about the future focus of INM, Mr Buckley said optimising its print portfolio, further growing its digital revenues and monetising its online content were part of its overall strategy.
He also said that further cost reductions — the elimination of around €25m last year is to be followed by more savings of €20m across this year and next — would see improved efficiencies in all areas of the business, but also additional headcount reductions. He added that, on the issue of monetisation of online content, the prospect of a pay-wall was still being considered and was “not off the agenda”.
Regarding any prospect of INM resuming dividend payments to shareholders, Mr Buckley said that he didn’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.
When questioned by a shareholder about executive pay levels, Mr Buckley said that while he understood concerns, shareholder value was improving. He added that he had never witnessed a harder working one than is currently in situ at INM.