Kim Williams unveils plans for Alan Kohler

By David Blight | 6 July 2012
News Limited chief executive Kim Williams.

Following a multimillion dollar acquisition process, News Limited chief Kim Williams has revealed his plans for Alan Kohler's Australian Independent Business Media (AIBM), which includes the renowned Business Spectator.

In a letter to staff obtained by AdNews, Williams explained that AIBM would essentially exist as a separate business unit which retains all existing staff. The primary difference will be the makeup of the AIBM board.

While the company's board was formerly chaired by editor-in-chief Alan Kohler with three non-executive directors Tony Faure, John Wylie and Abi Cleland, the company will now have a board consisting of Kohler and three senior News Limited executives.

Williams said: “A management board made up of senior leaders from AIBM and News will ensure that the spirit of AIBM is maintained … On editorial matters Alan will report to me."

While Williams did not name the three new directors, a source told AdNews they will be "very senior people ... people who report directly to Kim Williams".

Williams also said News Limited will invest significantly into the company to create new content offerings. “We will provide the necessary investment and support that is needed to expand the Business Spectator proposition, including into other niche business verticals that have compelling national and global offerings.”

Nicholas Gray will remain general manager and publisher of Business Spectator, while James Leplaw will hold the same role on the Eureka Report.

Speaking with AdNews, Gray said the new structure will ensure the company remains largely independent from News Limited in an editorial sense. However, he said there will be a great deal of collaboration when it comes to advertising.

“The fact that Alan reports directly to Kim will ensure we can keep our editorial independence; it allows us to keep the integrity we have built our audiences on. There has to be both a perception and a reality that we maintain some independence from News Limited.

“No one has lost their jobs, and it is clear News shares our ambition to grow the business.

“In the short term it's business a usual for advertisers, but moving forward there are clearly opportunities for collaboration particularly with he Australian where we have the largest business investment audience. The sales teams will remain in place, and there will be no redundancies, but we will certainly be looking for opportunities to collaborate.”

The sale of AIBM had been a hot topic of conversation in the industry for some time.

It was initially believed Fairfax would buy 75% of the company, although AdNews understands the two parties were unable to agree on certain terms.

News Limited's takeover of the company was confirmed last month. Reports have suggested acquisition may have been as high as $30 million.

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