Hugh Marks addresses redundancies, Nine and Fairfax merger backlash mounts

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 26 July 2018
Hugh Marks at the 2017 Nine Upfronts

Following news that Fairfax and Nine are set to merge, Nine CEO Hugh Marks, who will lead the new entity, has reassured his staff in a company-wide email.

In the memo, obtained by AdNews, Marks addresses the possibility of future redundancies and assured staff the deal wasn’t done on the basis of cost-cutting.

"Such a merger of two major media groups will of course result in some duplication of functions and you will read about synergies that will be pursued by the business as part of this transaction," he said.

"But let me stress this merger is not about cost reductions. This merger is all about creating a business with the diversity and scale of revenues and earnings to be able to continue to do what we are all about. Create great content. Distribute it broadly. And engage our audiences and advertisers. Ultimately our people will all have new opportunities across more platforms, brands and identity to connect with audiences."

A statement on the ASX today said the merger is expected to deliver cost savings of at least $50 million over two years.

He describes the landmark deal as “ground-breaking” and said it’s a significant step in the evolution of Nine’s business into one of the most powerful media organisations in the country.

“The scope of this deal is genuinely quite breathtaking,” he said.

The news that Nine and Fairfax will become one company has shaken Fairfax and Nine staff, as well as commentators, who have shared their disappointment the Fairfax name will now be axed after its 150-year history.

Ex-Fairfax journalist Katharine Murphy said the news makes her “want to cry” and Kate McClymont, investigative journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald, also shared her thoughts on the move.

While commentators are widely seeing the merger as having a negative impact on the Australian media landscape, Marks said in the memo it will improve the scale the companies can offer advertisers, increase digital revenues, facilitate further investment in news and current affairs and help take Stan to the next level as Nine now owns 100% of the streaming service.

“Make no mistake, these are exciting times for Nine. I look forward to joining with you all in making this merger an outstanding success. It’s a big deal. And it promises to substantially strengthen and reinforce what’s so great about our business into the future,” he said.

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