According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD column today, the hunt for a new CEO at Fairfax has gone a bit cold. CBD said: “The search for someone to replace Fairfax chief Fred Hilmer has not gone quickly or smoothly. And things could take even longer now head-hunters Russell Reynolds Associates are believed to no longer have the job of helping chairman Dean Wills come up with a new boss for the newspaper publisher.

“Russell Reynolds partner Lynn Anderson was not returning calls and a Fairfax spokesman would not comment but a new executive search firm is on the cards.”

Well, there’s another explanation. Brian Evans, the former head of the Fairfax’s community and regional papers and the man who turned the New Zealand operation into a gold mine, is now at Darling Park in Sydney as Chief Operating Officer. He oversees all operations, except, strangely, Fairfax Business Media, where the luckiest man in Australian journalism, Michael Gill, still reports to CEO, Fred Hilmer.

That’s despite the continuing slump in circulation at The Australian Financial Review weekday and weekend editions. Evans’ presence might explain the absence of a head hunter from the CEO search process!

Peter Fray

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