There hasn’t yet been any explanation for Domain boss Antony Catalano’s shock resignation yesterday, other than he wants to spend more time with his family. The Australian‘s Margin Call column today say Catalano won’t receive a termination payment or any portion of his options, and he won’t have an ongoing consulting role.
It’s far from the first time The Cat, as he’s known, has appeared in news and gossip columns, and we’ve taken a look back at his career in the spotlight before the news of the Domain spin-off reached fever pitch over the past 12 months.
After working for The Age as a police reporter, gossip writer and a former runner-up as Young Journalist of the Year, and then property editor, Catalano was given the role of director of real estate at the paper. At the time, The Australian‘s media diary reported he was already one of the highest paid people in print journalism (as well as noting his well-known dabbling in property development).
Antony Catalano’s pay and benefits as property editor for The Age came under scrutiny when then-property editor Aileen Keenan took legal action against the paper, alleging she was paid less than Catalano and other counterparts because she was a woman. She lost the full case, but the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission did find that she’d been discriminated against by not being allowed a company car. During the hearing, AAP reported that deputy editor Ken Merrigan said Catalano’s pay in the role was an “aberration” for his position. He said the six-figure pay was unfair to editors of other sections, and said Catalano was a “persuasive negotiator” and the editorial department was glad to have “got rid” of the anomaly when Catalano moved to the role of director.
While the discrimination case was in court, The Age was also accused of pressuring real estate agents to continue submitting their auction results, risking losing special advertising deals if they didn’t. Catalano denied the allegations.
Also during the hearing, the Herald Sun reported on a property development company that Catalano owned a 25% share in, along with members of Melbourne’s Mantello family. The article noted that The Age‘s property section had published stories about the Mantello family’s property ventures. Catalano responded to the investigation by saying no developers or agents had “received anything other than fair and balanced coverage from me”.
Catalano was made redundant from his role as sales and marketing director at Fairfax in a restructure that also cut then-editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan.
The Weekly Review launches under Metro Media Publishing, fully owned by Catalano and real estate shareholders he negotiated with. The new publication threw Fairfax into a spin when real estate agents started defecting taking their advertising dollars with them. Crikey reported at the time that Fairfax dumped broadcaster and real estate doyen Tim Fletcher from its line-up when his firm moved its advertising to Catalano’s publication. The Australian reported in February, 2011 that he’d stripped $35 million worth of real estate advertising from the pages of The Age.
Fairfax and Catalano’s business merged, with Catalano retaining full management control of the new business.
Catalano was back in the gossip columns after he and his wife hosted Prince Harry’s then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas at their Byron Bay home: “My wife and I were with Vincent Rae at his place up there, Rae’s at Wategos, and they were there too. We were with the artist David Bromley, who was painting a mural. The girls told us they were on holiday and asked about any decent backpacker hostels we could recommend. We have six kids, and I told them we had a spare room. They ended up babysitting for us.”
Geelong real estate agent Danny Hayes lodged defamation papers against Catalano over statements he’d made in an email to Geelong agents and in a note carried in his Weekly Review Greater Geelong publication. The suit was part of an ad war in which Catalano alleged Hayes was receiving kick-backs to move his advertising to the News Corp-owned Geelong Advertiser. At the same time, Metro Media Publishing was suing Hayes’ agency for reneging on its advertising agreement.
Catalano appointed CEO of Domain.
A court heard that after failing a random breath test, Catalano complained to police of chest pains and was taken to hospital. The case over the October 2012 incident received heavy coverage in the Herald Sun, but the case was thrown out when the magistrate found a blood sample was taken unlawfully.
Fairfax completed a takeover of Metro Media Publishing.
A second drink-driving case ended up with Catalano banned from driving for 16 months. He’d again complained of chest pains when he was pulled over. Again, the Herald Sun delighted in giving the case full coverage, producing the excellent headline, “Dodgy ticker, lots of liquor”.
Catalano as fodder for gossip columns was back, with The Australian Financial Review‘s Joe Aston reporting that Catalano had gone to his reproductive specialist Dr Christopher Love for the snip, having fathered eight children.
“The Cat’s partying ways” were again the subject of business gossip, with The Australian‘s Margin Call column reporting on his mode of transport to the Melbourne Cup … via helicopter: “Somewhat bizarrely, we keep hearing whispers about concerns over The Cat’s partying ways,” the column read.