Dear Colleagues,

This email is to advise you about proposed changes to the five monthly finance and investment magazine titles (ie excluding the weekly business magazine BRW) at Fairfax Business Media – Magazines.

Last Friday, Fairfax Business Media told managing editors and staff of a proposal to make several changes to these five magazines. While this is still a proposal, there are implications for Shares magazine and I have been authorised by FBM – Magazines’ Associate Publisher to advise you of the proposed changes.

It is proposed that production of all five finance and investment magazines will be relocated from FBM – Magazines in Melbourne to the Australian Financial Review offices in Sydney. Shares magazine and Personal Investor will cease to be produced in October. A new magazine, AFR Smart Investor, a monthly newsstand title combining elements of the two closed magazines, will be produced in Sydney under a new managing editor with the first issue scheduled for December 2005.

The staff affected by this proposal have been offered voluntary redundancies, assistance with relocation to Sydney, or possible redeployment within FBM and The Age. At this stage, I am considering what I will do. I have been told AFR Smart Investor will continue to use some Shares contributors. I’m sorry, but I have no further details or specifics.

Most importantly, we are still producing three issues of Shares before the change: the September cover-dated issue (the copy deadline for this issue is before noon Wednesday, July 27), also the October issue. The November issue (on sale mid-October) will be the last Shares magazine. That is as much as I know, as this stage. I had no prior knowledge of this announcement. I am happy to speak to you about this – although I must stress that you know as much as I do now.

Shares magazine has finished the financial year just ended with a strong EBITDA result that exceeded budget. Over the past year it has cemented its recent circulation gains, enjoyed outstanding newsstand sales (particularly the Hot Stocks 2005 issue), and seen rock solid subscriber numbers – all this despite the market jitters of early 2005. Shares remains Australia’s number one investment magazine. And as you will have seen, Shares has enjoyed extremely strong advertising support that was so great we were able to increase the pagination size of the book in recent months.

It has been a wonderful pleasure for me working with you all and I’d like to thank each of you for your hard work, excellent ideas, and most particularly your friendship and support over the past three years that I have been managing editor of this great magazine.

My kindest regards and grateful thanks to all of you.

CRIKEY: Given the chequered performance of Fairfax Business Publications under Michael Gill over the past seven years, such a huge shake-up seems odd at this time, especially as CEO-in-waiting Brian Evans doesn’t have nominal responsibility for this part of Fairfax. Gill still reports to lame-duck CEO Fred Hilmer.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey