It’s goodbye Stocklands House and hullo Park Street for Phil Scott, the man known to those who worked with him at John Fairfax as “Satan in a Suit”.

The ACP men’s publisher is making the long awaited shift to the executive floor at Park Street, where the battle will be on between himself, fellow group publisher, pat Ingram and the deputy CEO of ACP, David Gardiner.

He was packing Friday and will complete the move today to start in his new office after waving good-bye to the troops in Stocklands House in Castlereagh Street.

Today he’s into the executive suits at 54 Park Street and girding his loins for the coming battles with David Gardiner, his nominal boss and Pat Ingram, a putative rival.

Gardiner is now effectively CEO of the ACP group in all but name only and other magazine executives in and out of the Packer group are now watching with interest to see who wins what will be a war of attrition for control.

Scott will become what is effectively Deputy CEO and Group editorial director, with the nominal CEO and PBL boss, John Alexander, the $25 million man, concentrating more on the parent’s broader businesses.

PBL will acquire half of the Hoyts movie chain in the next two months and that will have to be bedded down and the joint venture with West Australian Newspapers established and put on a working basis.

Then there’s the continuing drive into gambling in Asia and the UK, although for the moment that British expansion is being done through the Packers private Consolidated Press group.

But like Hoyts, any casinos or gaming businesses in the UK will end up in PBL with Crown and Burswood and the interests in Macau (and possibly Singapore) with the Stanley Ho family.

A lot for Alexander to oversee and drive to earn his three to five million dollars a year in actual salary and bonuses and hundreds of thousand of dollars extra in additional deferred bonus payments.

That will come from the sweat and hard work of the ordinary employees and underlings like Scott, Gardiner and Ingram in ACP, and those running the problematic Network Services distribution business.

Meanwhile a former work mate of Scott and magazine industry veteran has written to observe that:

The interesting thing about Phil Scott’s elevation is that it’s not into the CEO’s job vacated by Alexander. Ever since he returned to ACP as men’s publisher, Scott has been telling anyone who’ll listen that he was on a promise from JA that his post in the men’s group was only temporary. That promise, it was assumed, was that he would be the next CEO, and that was widely believed at ACP, where David Gardiner was known to be comfortable in the 2IC role and wasn’t particularly ambitious for the top job.

When Jill Baker’s specialist group was dissolved a year or so ago and split between Scott’s group and Pat Ingram’s, the nature of the carve-up confirmed that Scott had risen above Ingram in the tussle for the CEO’s gig – Scott taking women’s titles such as House & Garden and Gourmet Traveller which were an odd fit in the “men’s” group and were naturals for Ingram’s group.

Jill Baker has left ACP, where she was overseeing the small book publishing business. She’s popped up at Random House in a senior management position.

At one stage she was a ‘loved one’ of JA. He head-hunted her from the Melbourne Age and at one stage she was ACP Specialist Lifestyle publisher, sort of on a par with Scott.

But she fell out of favour with JA (he’s a sweetie) and her titles were mostly mopped up by Scott, especially The Bulletin, which has a special part in the Packer family’s heart.

Now she’s gone and no-longer a reminder to Scott and Ingram of what can happen to them if JA no longer ‘luvs ya”.

Some ACP insiders current and some former staff wonder about Scott’s performance as a publisher. Underwhelming is one verdict with not much in the way of new titles launches.

Just three in fact; the much trumpeted Men’s Style (which was just a re-badge of Ralph Style), Inside Cricket (a re-badge of the failed Inside Edge) and a car mag called 2DMax, which was launched as a prospective spoiler should Emap try to launch the successful UK mag, MaxPower, in Australia.

None are exactly big-ticket items by ACP’s standards and they haven’t taken the mag world by storm. Indeed, Men’s Style has angered other editors in the men’s group who have to wear costs associated with the fashion mag which have been farmed away from the title in order to make it look more profitable than it really is.

Emap is trialling the distribution of a number of magazines through Network and when it commits, it will be a bit of a coup of the division and ACP.

Interestingly, Scott has appointed people to key positions whose magazine credentials are modest. Peter Holder (in charge of Men’s Style and Ralph) is a former people magazine sub-editor who edited the doomed GQ (but is a JA luvvie), while Michael Koslowski has, to my knowledge, never worked on mags in his life, but will takeover Scott’s men’s group. Funny times indeed.

Peter Fray

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