Veteran business commentators Alan Kohler and Stephen Bartholomeusz both quit Fairfax yesterday to devote their energies to growing The Eureka Report and other opportunities.
Kohler told Crikey that he was quitting his twice-weekly column in The Age and The SMH but would continue his nightly finance reports on ABC television and remain host of Inside Business.
“Eureka needs more of my time and we have plans to grow the business but you can draw your own conclusions on what they may entail,” Kohler said.
The Kohler move was not surprising given his ridiculous workload and the growth of Eureka, but the defection of Bartho has caused shock waves at Fairfax, given that he has been writing the daily column for 20 years.
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Bartho told Crikey that he was now 50 and after almost 25 years at Fairfax and five years at The Sun before that, it was time for a change.
“It was the right offer at the right time,” said Bartho who has rejected numerous offers over the years.
Kohler’s offer to Bartho included an equity interest in The Eureka Report which has now notched up 6000 subscribers paying $295 a year for the thrice weekly editions full of investment advice.
It now boasts arguably Australia’s most impressive stable of business commentators when you add Bartho and more Kohler to the current team which includes Michael Pascoe and Robert Gottliebsen.
Before any dilution for Bartho’s equity, Eureka was almost 50% owned by Carnegie Wylie, one third by Kohler and 20% by Eric Beecher, one of the co-owners of Crikey.
The resignations maintain the pressure on Fairfax which has lost a suite of top financial commentators over the past few years, including The AFR’s Chancticleer columnist John Durie who left for The Australian last week.
Investment bankers Mark Carnegie and John Wylie are emerging as quite a thorn in the side of Fairfax, having reportedly outbid the company for Dunn & Bradstreet earlier this year.
Meanwhile, despite a hiring frenzy, The Australian is also having problems. Ingrid Mansell, daughter of WA News chairman Peter Mansell, was poached from The Times of London and promised the business editorship, before editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell changed his mind and appointed The AFR’s Andrew Main to the job, replacing Andrew White who has been put in charge of the online business coverage.
Mansell quit in a huff a few days ago and there is said to be some unhappiness over Main’s appointment and the treatment of White.
Disclosure: Crikey co-owner Eric Beecher is part owner of The Eureka Report.