Fairfax Media is bracing for sweeping changes to its senior executive ranks, with well-placed sources telling Crikey acting chief executive Greg Hywood is now an unbackable favourite to be confirmed in the top job following the company's board meeting next Friday.

The choice of the savvy Hywood -- an increasingly popular figure among journalists at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald -- is looking like a fait accompli despite a global search for a new leader sparked by the resignation of Brian McCarthy in early December. Fairfax has been paying the former Tourism Victoria chief $50,000 a week while the board deliberates.