Bauer CEO hangs it up. In September 2012 German publishing house Bauer paid a reported $500 million for the ACP Magazines arm of Nine Entertainment Co, and almost immediately found that it had overpaid and bought a pig in a very poor poke. Since then it has been a battle for Yvone Bauer, the boss, and the CEO she inherited, Matthew Stanton, to rightsize ACP. This week Stanton said he was departing for greener pastures.
The German company found an industry suffering a gigantic secular change with falling sales and plunging ad revenues (the industry’s ad revenues fell by close to 20% in the following year). A year later in the accounts of Bauer’s UK operations, which control the newly acquired Australian arm, revealed $37 million in impairment charges in ACP. Bauer and Stanton took an axe to ACP, chopping magazines such as Grazia, Madison and Women’s Fitness. But the company started Elle and this year has launched three smaller magazines. The in-house pre-press business was among the first to be chopped in late 2012, with more than 20 jobs going as well. But more money has been invested in the likes of Cleo, Woman’s Day and the Australian Women’s Weekly, with new editors and senior staff hired and magazines revamped.
Stanton says he’s going to Woolworths in an unspecified role — but could there be a clue in his pre magazine life when he worked as a finance executive (reaching the level of finance director) for several key brands and parts of the world’s biggest brewer, InBev (now Anheuser-Busch InBev). Combining the management and media skills with his finance background would make him a good fit to work at a senior level in the retailer’s liquor business.
David Goodchild, CEO of Bauer’s huge UK media business, will take up the top job later this year. Stanton said he will stay to help with the transition. That is an interesting move as he is going from a larger business to the small magazine’s only operation here (or does Bauer harbour ambitions for radio?). — Glenn Dyer
French journalists home after Papua ordeal. Thomas Dandoit, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, the two French journalists who were jailed in Indonesia’s troubled province of West Papua for reporting without a journalism visa, landed in Paris early yesterday.
The two were arrested in West Papua in August for making a documentary for the Franco-German television channel Arte while on tourist visas. International journalists need to obtain a journalist visa as well as authorisation — rarely granted — in order to report from the region. Last week Dandoit and Bourrat were sentenced to two and a half months in jail but were released this week after time served awaiting trial. According to the Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI), it’s the first time foreign journalists have been convicted in Papua for breaching the immigration laws.
“I’m very happy and I can’t wait to walk in streets of Paris and finally feel free. The whole process was long and we are free since Monday but we have been surrounded by officials and officers since then so I really can’t wait to truly feel free,” Bourrat told the French press at the airport.
Dandoit said that he wanted to spend the day with his kids.
On October 16, the NGO Human Rights Watch’s Asia director Phelim Kine asked for the Indonesian government to “drop the charges against Dandois and Bourrat as a first step toward ending the gag on foreign media reporting on Papua.” — Simon Vallenet
Correction of the day. The Australian Financial Review this morning carries what must be the most significant stuff-up by a finance gossip column for some time — a correction of sorts as regards former Sydney broker and Liberal Party activist John Valder and former NSW opposition leader, outgoing head of the Financial Services Council and incoming head of the Company Directors mob John Brogden.
Under the headline “Bondy meets Brogden”, Rear Window columnist Will Glasgow wrote:
“But the Rear Window Lunch of the Day award goes to the head of the Company Directors John Brogden who was out with Alan Bond (a little fatter, a little whiter and a helluva lot poorer than in his heyday) at dumpling bar Lotus at Walsh Bay. The policeman of corporate governance picking the brains of the celebrated former inmate. Perfect.”
But it was’t perfect. This morning’s Rear Window contains this rather hesitant apology under the headline “About that lunch”.
“It seems we owe John Brogden and John Valder lunch. And an apology for any implied inference about Brogden’s character. On Wednesday Rear Window reported that Brogden had lunch with Alan Bond. We stuffed up.”
“’I don’t know and have never met Mr Bond,’ Brogden told us. He was instead lunching at Lotus Dumpling Bar with his friend John Valder, a former finance journalist, stockbroker and NSW and federal Liberal Party president.”
“Also, Brogden is now the chief executive of the Financial Services Council. He starts as the head of the Australian institute of Company Directors in January.”
Glasgow must be pretty remote not to be able to spot the difference between John Valder and Alan Bond, or his informant was. Valder is a staple in Sydney finance, and older heads around finance and business journalism know him (clearly there are not many left on the AFR, Thursday edition). That tells us more about the scattiness of the AFR’s business coverage than anything else. — Glenn Dyer
Media industry should help Murdoch, says Murdoch. How loud does an 83-year-old media mogul named Murdoch have to yell before people start taking notice of what he’s saying? He and his senior executives at News Corp have been banging on about the evils of Google for years now, with the latest campaign intensifying in the past two months. Now the old duffer wants the rest of the broadcast industry to help him out of a problem. He’s worried about the rise of streaming video services, but because of his multibillion-dollar plunge into cable sport in the US, can’t do anything to upset the cable companies he is negotiating with by going into competition through a clone of Netflix. So he told The Wall Street Journal the media industry as a whole needs its own competitor to online streaming giants such as Amazon and Netflix.
His call underlines how cunning the old bloke is at times. The Murdoch clan controls 21st Century Fox (he is chairman), and it is one of the partners in Hulu, perhaps the earliest possible streaming business in the American media, but one whose ambitions have been thwarted by rivalry between the partners — Fox, Disney and Comcast (NBCUniversal). Jason Kilar, Hulu’s CEO, left last year. His new video startup, Vessel, is backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. His departure was linked to the reluctance of Hulu to get serious about streaming video. There was talk that Comcast blocked moves by Disney and Fox to sell out of Hulu last year because the highest offer came from AT&T and Chernin Group, controlled by Murdoch’s former right-hand man Peter Chernin, and Comcast didn’t want such a big rival muscling in. AT&T has gone on to offer US$48 billion for DirecTV.
But Murdoch said overnight the companies were now working together in Hulu. “I think we’re all on the same page,” Murdoch said. But as yet Hulu has not made its mark in a sector where it should have been an industry leader. And Hulu could be on the market if Comcast is forced to give up its stake in the event of it winning approval to takeover Time Warner Cable. Selling cable operations and the Hulu stake might be part of the deal, according to some US reports. Murdoch, if he is serious, could buy the rest of Hulu. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. And it’s off to game seven for the World Series …