Telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien yesterday bought another two million shares in Independent News and Media – raising his stake above 26 per cent and giving him extra clout with the board.
The move puts the man who has been branded a dissident shareholder just behind chief executive Sir Anthony O’Reilly who owns 28 per cent of the shares.
If O’Brien reaches 29.9 per cent he must make a bid for the company.
O’Brien has been highly critical of O’Reilly’s leadership of Independent News and Media – whose UK titles include The Independent, the Belfast Telegraph and the Sunday World – and called for the company to sell off the loss-making Independent titles.
In an interview with The Times last year he said: ‘The Independent has to go, as do other vanity projects.
‘If he goes, and The Independent is sold, shareholders will save money. This is a company that is going nowhere.
‘Tony O’Reilly would be better off retiring and going off to sort out Waterford Wedgwood.’
O’Brien now has 26.15 per cent of the voting rights in Independent News and Media.