Nine and Fairfax have outlined plans to merge their businesses in one of the biggest media shake-ups in recent history.
The merger will see Nine shareholders own 51.1% of the combined entity with Fairfax shareholders owning the remaining 48.9%.
The combined business will be led by Nine’s current chief executive officer Hugh Marks and see the Fairfax name absorbed. Three Fairfax directors will join the new board and two Nine directors, plus Nine chairman Peter Costello will be on the board.
The merger is the first major deal to be made in Australian media since the media reforms were passed last October.
"Nine's strong operating momentum has allowed us to invest in the future of our business through each of 9Now, Digital Publishing and of course, Stan," Marks said.
"This merger with Fairfax will add another dimension, creating a unique, all-platform, media business that will reach more than half of Australia each day through television, online, print and radio."
The combined business will include Nine’s free to air network, 9Now and Stan, property business Domain, as well as Fairfax’s mastheads – which includes the Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and It will also include Fairfax Media’s investment in Macquarie Media.
Nine chairman Peter Costello said in a statement that both Nine and Fairfax had played "an important role in shaping the Australian media landscape over many years".
"The combination of our businesses and our people best positions us to deliver new opportunities and innovations for our shareholders, staff and all Australians in the years ahead," Costello said.
Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon said the deal represented "compelling value" for shareholders, allowing them to "maintain their exposure to Fairfax's growing businesses whilst also participating in the combination benefits with Nine".
Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood commented: “The Proposed Transaction for Fairfax reflects the success of Fairfax’s transformation strategy which has created value for shareholders through targeted investment in high growth businesses, such as Domain and Stan, and prudent management of our media assets. The combination with Nine provides an exciting opportunity to continue to drive incremental value well into the future.”
“We are confident that the strength of the combined management team and staff will ensure the continuation of our quality journalism.”
Subject to regulatory clearance, it is anticipated that the merger will complete before the end of this calendar year.
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