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INM has up to €100m for the 'right deal'

Independent News & Media may spend as much as €100m on acquisitions.

The owner of this newspaper said it has repaid all debts and now has €30m in the bank. That means INM could spend as much as €100m if the right deal came along, chairman Leslie Buckley said.

Mr Buckley said Ireland's newspaper industry needed further consolidation to cut costs.

Speaking after a shareholder meeting, he said newspapers could combine to cut printing and distribution costs while maintaining editorial integrity.

companies Pressed on whether INM was interested in acquiring either TV3 or a newspaper group, Mr Buckley declined to speculate on which media companies INM might buy, but said the company was interested in "everything".

Consolidation is inevitable "one way or another", Mr Buckley added.

"We should take leadership on that," he added. "Our competition is not the other newspapers."

Earlier, chief executive Robert Pitt hailed "quite a dramatic change in the picture" for the company, which owns The Herald as well as the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, and the Sunday World.

Mr Pitt told shareholders that 2015 had started well and trading was in line with expectations. INM is "very well positioned for recovery", he added.

INM has cleared its debts and advertising has risen year-on-year for the first time since 2007, he said.

The company sold the last tranche of its shareholding in APN last month.

The proceeds were used to clear the last of INM's debts, which just three years ago stood at €420m.

Yesterday, Mr Buckley said INM had been "lucky" because the share price in APN has fallen since the sale.