Fairfax has for years been insisting it has no plans to float or otherwise spin off money-making real estate business Domain — the last remaining tributary to its once mighty rivers of gold — but some developments in office allocations have set tongues wagging.

In a few weeks, Domain editorial staff in Melbourne will be leaving Media House (home of the Age‘s newsroom) to join the rest of the operation at swanky new South Melbourne premises. It’s where the most of the Victorian Domain operation has been housed since December, and it is also the home of Metro Media Publishing, the newsroom of the glossy Melbourne Weekly titles (Domain purchased MMP outright early last year — the free suburban newspapers make money through real estate advertising and were founded by Domain boss Antony Catalano). This follows the Domain Sydney operation leaving the main Fairfax building in Pyrmont last year to reside in its own offices in Harris Street, not too far away. Doing this freed up a floor in Sydney that Fairfax could rent out, and it’s understood similar reasoning is behind the move in Melbourne.

But for the journalists employed by Domain, the physical separation from the main metro newsrooms makes it harder to collaborate. It also isolates Domain culturally, leaving it less connected to the broader operation.

All this would make it easier to spin off Domain from the rest of Fairfax. Though its long-suffering spokesman — who we realise has been asked this question for years — insists it still has no plans to do so. “As we have repeatedly said, there are no plans for an IPO,” he told Crikey yesterday. “Domain is a business of enormous value, and growing aggressively as part of the Fairfax portfolio, for Fairfax shareholders.”

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