Fred Hilmer, John Fairfax’s CEO, had better be very
confident that Brian Evans has got the gig as his replacement. Why? Well there could be some very large payouts if
the recent round of management changes proves unacceptable to whoever succeeds
Hilmer in the event that it’s not Evans.

Freddy and the Fairfax
board appointed Brian Evans to be the company’s chief operating officer
earlier this year and he’s had a role in the very significant management
changes since then. You might say that Freddy is lumbering Evans (or his
successor) with a management team of Freddy’s making. Quite curious!

So if we have to assume (I know that’s a danger regarding Fairfax) that Brian Evans
has the job, why maintain the fiction of a search for Freddy’s successor? Or is the Fairfax
board also trying to work out who the new chairman will be so both can be
announced at the same time? Roger Corbett, any one?

These musings follow yesterday’s Fairfax
which revealed new heads of New Zealand, Victoria and NSW.

Hilmer announced that Fairfax
director, Joan Withers (an experienced Kiwi media executive), had been named as
head of the company’s NZ business and would report to him, along with Alan
Revell who is head of special projects in Australia and Michael Gill, head of
Fairfax Business Media.

Evans announced the new heads for Victoria,
a Kiwi in Don Churchill and James Hooke, a senior Fairfax manager. They
report to Evans. In addition Evans has made some major changes in his
and in the publishing side for editorial.

These had all better be acceptable to Evans (you’d think
they would be) because if they aren’t the Freddy has lumbered Fairfax with some hefty payouts. But knowing Fairfax,
anything is possible!