Fairfax: Matthews to go as Financial Review Group and Metro tipped to merge

By Brendan Coyne & Wenlei Ma | 4 April 2013
Jack Matthews.

EXCLUSIVE: Fairfax has refused to confirm that it will merge its Metro Media, Financial Review Group (FRG) and Regional media businesses under current Fairfax New Zealand CEO, Allen Williams, as part of a major restructure.

Speculation is mounting that Metro CEO Jack Matthews is set to leave with Garry Linnell running "news media", current FRG CEO Brett Clegg to run all business assets, including BusinessDay - currently part of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age mastheads. Clegg will report to Williams. Fairfax Metro commercial director, Ed Harrison, is tipped to take over sales across the newly consolidated structure.

CEO of Fairfax's regional publishing unit, Allan Browne, is also said to be exiting, along with Metro Media COO, David Hoath, AdNews understands.

There are suggestions that Fairfax will make an announcement today to the ASX. 

Major change has been heavily trailed in the firm’s own papers as Fairfax looks to cut costs. There has also been conjecture for some time that Matthews would return to New Zealand.

Fairfax’s communications manager Brad Hatch would not comment.

Update: Fairfax has issued a statement to the ASX confirming its structural changes. CEO Greg Hywood has also issued a staff memo outlining the overhaul. The company said it will now operate five business divisions:

Australian Publishing Media will incorporate The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other businesses previously contained within Metro Media, The Financial Review Group, Fairfax Regional Media, Agricultural Media and FCN NSW;

Domain, which includes the print and digital elements of the Domain business together with the Metro Media Publishing joint venture;

Digital Ventures, which includes Stayz, RSVP, TenderLink, and other digital businesses.  The existing Marketplaces division will no continue under the new structure;

Fairfax Radio and Fairfax New Zealand will remain unchanged from the previous structure.

Amendment: This story originally stated that Marketplaces would be merged into the same consolidated publishing unit as Metro Media, the Financial Review Group (FRG) and Regional media operations.

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