WAN shareholders haven’t had much
to be happy about lately, what with the dud Hoyts deal Ian Law left
them with before jumping ship to join PBL – the company with which he
did the dud Hoyts deal. That said, things seemed to be looking up with the
appointment of a new CEO, Ken Steinke, chief executive of APN News
& Media’s New Zealand operation.

But Ian Law had one more bit of bad news for shareholders before he takes up his PBL job in May – another profit downgrade.
Turns out that upgrading The West‘s printing presses will cost more than
previously thought – just as the Hoyts venture with PBL turned out to
be worse than previously thought.

So it looks like Steinke will
have his work cut out repairing the damage done in his predecessor’s
time, not to mention learning to dance the media merger foxtrot.

Law’s
performance in buying half of Hoyts from PBL remains one of the great
mysteries, but one surpassed by PBL then hiring him to run its magazine
business. It’s rumoured around town that James Packer has said of Laws
in relation to the Hoyts deal that he had never met anyone so desperate
to do a deal – not a good state to be in when negotiating with the
Packers.

Maybe James Packer just spotted a kindred soul, given
the haste with which he’s been wheeling and dealing since Kerry signed
off.

Peter Fray

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