After five rounds of redundancies over the last six years, Greg Hywood announced his own departure on Thursday.
“The shoe is on the other foot,” the Fairfax Media chief executive told staff on the newsroom floor. “I’m here announcing my own redundancy for once.”
Mr Hywood confirmed to staff what had been assumed earlier in the day when the deal to merge Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax was announced.
Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks will run the merged business and the broadcasters’ chairman Peter Costello will also keep his job, in a clear sign of its dominance in the deal.
Mr Hywood labelled his own departure as one of the “social issues” which are inevitably part of any corporate transaction.
But he won’t be leaving empty-handed. Following the separation of the Domain real estate business last year Mr Hywood holds 3.14 million performance rights.
With the Fairfax stock price running up 8.4 per cent to close at 83 cents, these are expected to deliver the former journalist and editor $2.6 million.
The board has discretion in awarding these as well as a further 1.1 million shares worth $891,000.
Then comes the options. After nearly eight years at the helm of the publisher Mr Hywood has 9.3 million options with a strike price of 82 cents.
These are only just in the money, but they also come with 933,000 Domain shares worth $3.1 million at Thursday’s close.
Mr Hywood could also expect to receive at least a year of base pay, which is a further $1.6 million.
All up this comes to around $8.2 million if the deal to merge with Nine goes ahead in the next five to six months.
For the 63-year-old this will surely be his final departure from Fairfax, after beginning as a cadet on The Australian Financial Review in the mid-1970s.
“Yes it’s a long time,” he said in a separate conversation about his 35 years at Fairfax.
This tenure was only interrupted by seven years away from the company working for then Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and running Tourism Victoria.
This followed a reported falling out with then chief executive Fred Hilmer, when Mr Hywood was editor in chief of the Age in Melbourne, following similar roles running The Sydney Morning Herald and the Financial Review.
In leaving early next year, Mr Hywood is likely to be the last chief executive of a stand-alone Fairfax after 177 years.
In addressing staff Mr Hywood acknowledged his tenure had been marked by job losses, disruption and pain as advertising revenue dried up due to the rise of the internet over the last decade.
“But we survived,” he said. “Many people predicted this would be the end of us.”