David Koch is arguably Australia’s busiest journalist but he is also widely promoted as someone who also runs businesses. Whilst Seven’s Sunrise has been a revelation since Koch took the chair, critics keep a close eye on the financially troubled Palamedia which Koch is intimately involved with. Follow the debate from our recent sealed section and hear the man explain the situation himself.

   

IS THERE TROUBLE IN THE HOUSE OF KOCH?

January 22 sealed section

There are interesting happenings at Palamedia, the David Koch media outfit.

Whilst David Koch is away on holidays, CEO Graeme Burdis and general manager Craig Marsh both resigned and departed on the same day.

Check out the very brief Purdis announcement to the ASX on Monday here.

Staff are now hearing that the company is looking at its future in terms of three months at a time. Sounds grim for a man who presents a nightly business show on Foxtel which regularly runs ads about Koch understanding business because he runs one.

Koch has been on a much deserved break after another hear of amazing work schedules but he popped up today on Sky Business Report interviewing Foxtel CEO Kim Williams about the digital launch.

Given his giant-killing performance on Seven’s Sunrise program last year, maybe it is time Koch forgot about Palamedia and just became an inhouse Seven talent.

Kerry Stokes owes him plenty as he was the bloke who encouraged Koch’s company to take over Channel E three years back. That was the beginning of the end as Channel E had fleas on it from the dotcom boom.

DAVID KOCH SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Feb 1 sealed section

David Koch has sent through this explanation of his workload and developments at struggling listed company Palamedia:

“Just back on deck after going on holidays so missed your bit on Palamedia last week in Crikey which seems to have triggered this week’s Rear Window item in the AFR. The problem is that if you don’t respond to anonymous contributions to Crikey then everyone assumes they are right.
 
So better late than never and, as it seems “David Koch’s Palamedia” appears to be a bit of a focus at the moment, can I just clear up a few misconceptions;

I am a minority shareholder in the company with just 7 per cent. The major shareholder is John McNiven with over 30 per cent. John has had an extensive career in international finance working for JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch on New York, London and Hong Kong.
 
While I am a director, I have had no day-to-day management responsibility at Palamedia for two years since soon after McNiven invested in the company and we agreed to appoint John’s business manager Graham Burdis as chief executive so I could get on with building the broadcast business.
 
Last year one of our existing directors, David Champtaloup, took on the role of executive chairman and Graham reported directly to him. David has extensive experience in television, internationally and domestically, and at all levels from presenting to senior executive positions at Freemantle Productions and Red Heart. David brings enormous skills to the business and runs Palamedia.

While Graham resigned while I was on holidays, the decision was quite rightly made after discussions with David Champtaloup whom Graham reports to. Graham and the entire Palamedia team have worked hard, and are still working hard, to build a strong business.
 
Your anonymous contributor incorrectly said staff were told the future of the business would be assessed every three months. The facts are they were told David Champtaloup and the board have given themselves 3 months to find a replacement for Graham who is still working for us to assist in the transition. He hasn’t just walked out. In the meantime, it was only natural the executive chairman David Champtaloup would step in to the position.
 
Also, just an update on your anonymous Palamedia contributor’s claims of last October;

They said Sky Business Report would lose Westpac as a sponsor. The 12-month term did expire and Westpac decided not to renew. But your contributor has failed to update you on the fact Commsec has taken up the sponsorship.

They said Palamedia’s custom publishing business would lose Westpac as a client… In fact, that contract was renewed.

Apart from our radio service to 58 stations every day, the broadcast side of the business has grown nicely over the last two years. We produce more local business broadcast television than any other company in the country through our Sky Business Report and what we do for Seven. In fact, the daily audience for our 30 minute Sky Business Report is twice that of CNBC’s 24 hour audience. This year we will be adding even more to our business television production schedule in both free-to-air and pay TV, which is why Michael Pascoe is such a great addition to the team.
 
Throw in my commitment to Sunrise and it keeps me off the street.

But I promise I won’t go on holidays again… or at least organise to access Crikey while away.

Regards, David Koch”

——————————–

PALAMEDIA COMES GOOD

Feb 5 sealed section

David Koch writes:

“Crikey, I’ve waited a week to see whether your anonymous Palamedia contributor passed on our December quarter cash statement as they have done in the past.

Call me cynical, but I wonder whether their silence has anything to do with the fact it was quite a good result and showed a positive cash flow.

As at September 30 we had $653,000 in cash. As a part of the December quarter cash statement we said:

“Business conditions are the best Palamedia has experienced in recent years. Palamedia expects to have a positive cash flow in the next quarter and an improved cash position at the end of the financial year.”

As at December 31 we had $1,241,000, an increase of cash in our bank account of $588,000 over the quyarter. This is first time in a number of years that the business has had a net increase in cash over a quarter.

Regards, David Koch”

CRIKEY: As the proud owner of 100 Palamedia shares we are delighted with this development. However, the stock has dipped from 15c to 12c since the cash flow statement was released on January 28 so our $15 holding is down to $12 but at least it now looks like the company has turned the corner and has a future.

 

Peter Fray

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