INM tried to cut O'Brien's shareholding

INDEPENDENT News &amp; Media (INM) held talks with Axel Springer regarding the German media group making an investment in the debt-laden firm in a bid to reduce the stake of rebel investor Denis O&rsquo;Brien.<br /><br />The talks &ndash; which have since broken down &ndash; centred around Springer supporting a rights issue that would have diluted O&rsquo;Brien&rsquo;s 26 per cent shareholding in INM.<br /><br />The news came as the full extent of the bitter row between O&rsquo;Brien and INM founder and 28 per cent shareholder Tony O&rsquo;Reilly was laid bare.<br /><br />The content of a heated three-way conversation between O&rsquo;Brien, one of his board representatives Paul Connolly and INM chief executive Gavin O&rsquo;Reilly, son of Tony, was noted down by Gavin O&rsquo;Reilly.<br /><br />According to the notes, O&rsquo;Brien threatened to call an extraordinary meeting of shareholders to vote on resolutions to change the firm&rsquo;s strategy. <br /><br />&ldquo;He became more aggressive and said if I wanted a &lsquo;fight&rsquo;, he&rsquo;d destroy me and my father&rsquo; and &lsquo;go after everything&rsquo;,&rdquo; noted O&rsquo;Reilly.<br /><br />Three days later O&rsquo;Brien demanded an extraordinary meeting be convened to vote on his proposals. <br /><br />In a six-page letter to INM he accused the seven board members who do not represent his own interests of being part of the O&rsquo;Reilly &ldquo;legacy&rdquo; that made poor decisions.<br /><br />He reiterated his frustration at the group&rsquo;s failure to address its &euro;1.3bn (&pound;1.1bn) debt &ndash; including a &euro;200m bond which was due in May &ndash; saying that O&rsquo;Reilly was &ldquo;incapable&rdquo; of leading the restructuring.<br /><br />O&rsquo;Reilly&rsquo;s resolutions include the sale of loss-making titles The Independent and its Sunday sister; the removal of Brian Hillery as chairman; and the cancellation of the disposal of its South African outdoor operation.