O’Reilly Junior Battles His Way Up From the Top

19 December 2001

“Throughout my career I'll never get away from charges of nepotism,” ruefully reflected Gavin O’Reilly (to 'The Dubliner' magazine) on the impediment of being the boss’s son.

Nepotism or not, O’Reilly junior (34) has just been named chief operating officer of Independent News & Media by executive chairman and paterfamilias Sir Anthony O’Reilly. Dynasty watchers say the appointment indicates the crowning of an heir-apparent to rule over the group’s extensive media interests in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Sibling rivalry always makes a good – if often unfounded – story and Gavin’s elevation to crown prince is purportedly at the expense of elder brother Cameron, who until 1999 headed IN&M’s Australian and New Zealand units. He quit the group without explanation, denying reports of a family rift, but remains a board member while also managing the clan’s private business interests.

Entrail-rakers have for some time regarded Gavin as the natural successor and chief operating officer in all but name, crediting him with the successful reorganisation of the group’s Australian assets. Insiders say this has laid the foundations for a second bid to acquire Fairfax, owner of the Sydney Morning Herald, which Sir Anthony tried to seize in the early 1990s [WAMN: 26-Nov-01].

Meantime, the O’Reilly dynasty remains allergic to the ‘N’ word, the more so since Gavin's twin, Tony junior, was gifted the chief executive role at Wedgwood, the ceramics unit of the family's Waterford Wedgwood luxury goods company.

But, the acid test with allegations of nepotism, as Gavin shyly told 'The Dubliner': “Is the people you work with - and the results … and the results have certainly exceeded expectations.”

News source: Financial Times