It’s almost an open secret now, with Fairfax Media’s draft scheme booklet at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission ahead of shareholders voting whether to merge our employer with Nine Entertainment Co (subject to ACCC chairman Rod Sims’ verdict on November 8).
We can’t remember which TV network airs Survivor and as a matter of principle we refuse to Google it. But the merging of two boards into one ultimately means seven directors need to be voted off the island.
From the outset (July 26), it was made clear Nine’s chairman Peter Costello and managing director Hugh Marks would continue, while three current Fairfax directors and two further Nine directors would round out the seven-strong board of the combined entity. One of the Fairfax three would be its chair Nick Falloon, who would also continue as chairman of Domain. That’s three men so far, so the odds weren’t crash hot for the other men in the mix.
We now understand that Falloon is bringing Patrick Allaway (also a Domain director) and Mickie Rosen along for the wild ride. Allaway is an investment banker while Rosen is former president of the Los Angeles Times, SVP of Yahoo’s media division and at Fox, where she set up the Hollywood studios’ Netflix challenger Hulu.
Costello retains former Deloitte partner Samantha Lewis and former Sky UK lawyer Catherine West.
That composition leaves some pretty big names on the cutting-room floor, not the least of whom is Nine’s previous chief executive David Gyngell, happily semi-retired in Byron Bay as a publican, brewer and surfer. Oh, and of course Fairfax’s managing director Greg Hywood, who rides off into the sunset, with his legacy secure, a barrowful of cash and an abruptly empty schedule.
Then there’s Australia’s most famous ad man, Todd Sampson, of Gruen and Redesign My Brain renown. His conflict as Ten Network talent presumably struck him out, but hey, he’ll still have his Qantas directorship.
And fast-food billionaire Hungry Jack Cowin, who joined Fairfax as something of a peace offering to its largest shareholder (and Jack’s good friend) Gina Rinehart, but stayed on long after she sold out, and as a valued contributor. Cowin of course sat on the Ten board for the entire nine years Falloon was the company’s CEO and then executive chairman. It’s fair to say Jack now has plenty on his plate as chairman and the largest shareholder of franchisor (and accounting acrobats) Domino’s Pizza.
So, too, does outgoing Fairfax director Linda Nicholls. She chairs residential aged care operator Japara Healthcare, its shares down 18.8 per cent since Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into the sector. And she’s a director of Medibank Private, on which Bill Shorten has promised to impose premium restrictions when he wins next year’s election. So there you have it. The tribe has spoken.