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Friday, 13 April 2018

Why did mutiple newspapers write that Denis O'Brien is a "majority shareholder" of INM?

Why did mutiple newspapers write that Denis O'Brien is a "majority shareholder" of INM? And then when queried about it, change it to single "largest shareholder"?

I first noticed an issue in the Broadsheet post Mistake in Look Hack in Anger

July 19, 2014:- Mr Rae, in his role as group editor of INM, orders the presses to be stopped to amend a column written by Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris which features references to Denis O’Brien.

Copies of the original article did however appear, allowing comparisons between the two. Harris originally wrote: “Denis O’Brien is the majority shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29% of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does.” The last sentence was deleted.

29% isn't a majority... and I've been told that publically listed companies cannot have majority shareholders, and that Denis O'Brien keeps his shareholdings at 29.9% so it can't be said he controls the company and doesn't have to make a bid for it all?

I searched Wikipedia article on Denis O'Brien and noticed that same sentence.

The Wikipedia articles cited the Guardian article Mistake in Irish newspaper editor's column was changed after going to press by Roy Greenslade 28 Jul 2014, It said,
Version one - Harris wrote: "Denis O'Brien is the majority shareholder in INM. In theory, with 29% of the shares, he does not control it. In practice, he does."

But copies of Harris's original column did make it on to the street and the differences between the two versions were spotted by Gavin Sheridan, who pictured them and then posted them here on thestory.ie website.

Gavin Sheridan's post Why was this Anne Harris Sunday Independent column modified? from 20th July 2014 which shows photos of two versions of the article that was changed, both versions say major shareholder not majority shareholder.

So the Guardian cited Gavin's post with the photos but misquoted them, I suspect some of the above were misled by this.

I emailed the Guardian, they asked me as the article was four years old why I was highlighted it to them now, I was surprised they didn't know, so I sent them the Irish Independents own Q&A on the allegations that the chairman of the company secretly read his journalist/employees emails and that this was paid for by a company owned by Denis O'Brien.

Guardian has not corrected their mistake.

I emailed Broadsheet and they corrected their post Mistake in Look Hack in Anger

Anne Marie McNally political director of the Social Democrats wrote a post about the topic which includes the line "The majority shareholder in INM is Mr Denis O’Brien." I emailed both her and broadsheet about it, it has not been corrected.

I corrected the wikipedia articles on Denis O'Brien, Anne Harris and Stephen Rae which all said majority citing the Guardidan article which cites Gavein Sheridans blog.

On the April 2 2018 Times Ireland published an article INM journalists threaten lawsuit over data breach by Peter O’Dwyer | Lise Hand that said,
Some journalists had covered the Moriarty tribunal and had written stories critical of Denis O’Brien before he became the company’s majority shareholder.
I emailed them about it and they changed it to
Some journalists had covered the Moriarty tribunal and had written stories critical of Denis O’Brien before he became the company’s largest single shareholder.

In the Irish Times Who are the Independent News & Media 19 by Colin Gleeson it said
Denis O’Brien, the group’s majority shareholder, voted against his retention.
I emailed them and asked was this right?

An Irish Times editor replied that I was correct and he corrected the article, but there are many other instances of this in the Irish Times will they all be corrected? Another recent example.

Denis v Goliath’: O’Brien’s battle against alleged reputational damage Fri, Apr 6, 2018 Colm Keena
"At one stage, O’Brien was the majority shareholder in INM "
he was?

The Irish Times Gavin O’Reilly says INM data breach claims ‘stomach-churning’ Apr 8, 2018 by Ronan McGreevy says
Mr O’Reilly is the son of Sir Anthony O’Reilly, who was once INM’s majority shareholder.
was he?

The Journal has an article Explainer: What on earth is going on at INM?
Communicorp is almost wholly owned by Denis O’Brien, who is also the majority shareholder at INM.
By the time I checked it they had already corrected it on thejournal but not on their sister business site Fora. IT has now been corrected.
" Communicorp is almost wholly owned by Denis O’Brien, who is also the largest shareholder at INM."

In the Irish Examiner there are less recent incidences of Denis O'Brien being desrcibed as a majority shareholder.

The Sunday Businness Post

Standing up in INM: The equivalent of war by Anne Harris writes
On the night of Saturday, July 19, 2014, there was a dramatic intervention, mid-publication, to remove four words from an article written by me, as editor of the Sunday Independent. “Denis O’Brien is the majority shareholder at INM. In theory with 29 per cent of the shares, he does not control it,” I wrote. “In practice, he does.” O’Brien has always denied he controls INM.
Those four little words, “In practice, he does”, were the reason the paper was held up.

Did she really write majority shareholder? Can Anne Harris herself (or the editors of her article) have misquoted her own article?

The Sunday Business Post hasn't replied or corrected the article yet.

Irish Mirror


Irish Mirror joins list of newspapers calling Denis O'Brien the majority shareholder in INM

Why has such a crucial point about the Denis O'Brien been published seemingly incorrectly by so many news media organisations? and how has it gone unnoticed for so long?



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