There are growing signs of significant management changes at the ACP
magazines division of PBL that will have an impact all the way to the
top of the company.

Insiders say the change is happening to allow John Alexander, the CEO
of ACP to lose that responsibility and concentrate on his main gig as
CEO of the entire company, a role he took on in June when Peter Yates
was ‘departed’.

Insiders say the announcement late last week of the promotion of IT
boss, Michael Mangan to the new role of director of Operations and
Technology is only the first of a number of changes in the magazines
business.

Mangan’s appointment was announced internally late last week by the ACP
Deputy CEO, David Gardiner, who has been running the day to day
business of the group for the past two months.

Gardiner announced the move in the same fashion and the same form of
words (“Join with me in welcoming Michael etc etc”) that Alexander has
used at ACP and PBL. And it was the second semi-public announcement
about a significant decision in ACP that Gardiner has announced. A
month or so ago it was the acquisition of new titles in New Zealand.

Gardiner was also the ACP executive quoted (but that has been standard
for some time now) as talking about the most recent magazine
circulations that showed some successes for ACP, but an overall rise of
only one per cent in total circulations for its portfolio. But
Nielsen estimated that ACP’s revenues for the six months rose at a
better 3.2% per cent rate.

Crikey had previously reported that Gardiner had taken a greater role
in the running the day to day business while Alexander was
concentrating on bringing himself up to speed on PBL’s growing gambling
business, especially the Betfair betting exchange joint venture that is
in its early stage of planning and is dependant on Betfair obtaining
the required licences to operate in Australia.

That has meant Alexander has had to learn quickly and master the
group’s gaming businesses, starting with Crown Casino, the almost
completed bid for Burswood Casino in Perth, Betfair, and hopes of
picking up a Casino management deal in Macao. The company still has the
infrastructure in place to get an online business for itself up and
running, should government approval happen at any time (it was knocked
back last year and PBL had to shutdown its Vanuatu-based Crown Casino
online business).

Alexander has wanted to continue overseeing the magazines business
where he made his reputation at PBL and with Kerry Packer and son
James. But the rapid growth in the gaming side has meant greater
attention has to be paid to that.

Gardiner was named deputy CEO of the ACP at the time Alexander was
elevated to CEO of the entire company with the idea of taking some of
the running from Alexander. But Alexander has still been having
his regular meetings with the various publishers and sometimes their
associates.

But Gardiner has effective day to day control reports are that he will
be named as CEO in the next couple of months. It could be finalised by
the time PBL reports its full year figures in about a fortnight’s time.

Mangan’s new job represents a significant restructuring of key parts of
the ACP publishing side. In this job he will be responsible for
ACP’s Information Technology, Photography, Syndication, Human
Resources, Distribution and Production Services. That makes him
one of the more important executives in ACP. Barry Smith who was
running the Production Services will continue to report to Gardiner.

Next up will be changing the reporting roles of the group’s various
publishers and even appointing someone to takeover many of the roles
that John Alexander oversaw as CEO and with a strong journalist
background.

David Gardiner was originally hired as the Chief Financial Officer for
the ACP group about seven years ago and was then appointed Chief
Operating Officer, and then Deputy CEO in May.

His main weakness is the lack of publishing and editorial experience,
hence the speculation about a new group publisher or equivalent
position. Phil Scott, and Pat Ingram are the two most favoured senior
group publishers currently reporting to Alexander.

If Gardiner retains all the roles currently held by Alexander, that
could spark some unease among staff and analysts and others who say the
ACP turnaround has been one of the big stories about PBL in the past
three years.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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