Passed-over
internal CEO candidates are well known for spitting the dummy and
defecting to a competitor. But can anyone recall the unprecedented
situation revealed this morning when Fairfax’s chief operating officer,
Brian Evans, was appointed CEO of PMP?

As we know, the Fairfax
board decided Evans wasn’t up to the top job and instead head hunted
PMP CEO David Kirk, the former All Black captain with no newspaper
experience, to run the company.

So we’ve now got the paper and
print expert running Australia’s most important journalism company and
the newspaper veteran leaving behind a 30 year career to suddenly
become the king of Australia’s biggest printing company. Wouldn’t it
have been a lot easier if the Fairfax board had appointed Evans as CEO
and left Kirk, whose recent record was decidedly mixed, at PMP?

And
how amusing to have the Fairfax CEO who just won’t go away, Fred
Hilmer, telling the staff about the news with this announcement earlier
today:

Dear Colleagues

This morning PMP Ltd will be
announcing that Brian Evans has been appointed as its new CEO. We
congratulate Brian. He has our thanks for his outstanding work with
Fairfax for the past several years.

David Kirk, our incoming
CEO, will accelerate his commencement date with Fairfax, and will
formally start next Monday, 17 October. David will assume direct
responsibility for the Australian operations that previously reported
to Brian. David welcomes the opportunity to be involved so strongly
from the outset, and is eager to begin.

The company’s announcement to the ASX this morning follows below.

Sincerely
Fred Hilmer
Chief Executive Officer

Check out the PMP announcement here and the Fairfax announcement from controversial chairman Ron Walker here.

It
is a chairman’s role to manage succession and the Fairfax process has,
frankly, been quite pathetic. Add to that the totally unnecessary $4.5
million retirement benefit promised to Fred Hilmer for six years of
average performance and Ron Walker might find himself under a little
bit of pressure when he puts himself up for re-election at the
forthcoming AGM.

Fairfax shares fell 6c to $4.38 this morning,
so the market regards Evans as an important loss, although PMP is only
0.5c higher at $1.455, so getting a non-printing bloke in as CEO hasn’t
fired up its share price.

Other prominent spurned wannabe CEOs who defected over the years include:

Keith Barton: Passed over at CSR so went to run James Hardie
John Mulcahy and Gail Kelly: left CBA to run Suncorp Metway and St George respectively after David Murray showed no sign of leaving
Paul Thompson: shafted as Austereo CEO after Village Roadshow bought the company, then later defected to establish DMG
Gary Toomey: The Qantas board opted for Geoff Dixon to replace James Strong so Toomey defected to Air New Zealand.

Send other examples to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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