Veit Dengler and Brendon Hill had a busy schedule on Wednesday. The visiting Bauer Media global COO and the incoming CEO Australia were co-ordinating the orderly departure of outgoing CEO Paul Dykzeul after two years at the head of the Australian business.
On paper Bauer has been blessed with the outgoing and incoming chiefs. Hill has been with the ACP/Bauer titles since 2006, while Dykzeul retires tomorrow after 25 years in magazines.
Dengler and Hill chaired a Bauer Media Australia meeting with staff on Wednesday as the announcement about the new CEO was made.
Brendon Hill told Mediaweek yesterday: “I told the staff I want to get around and meet them all, ask about the future and what we could be doing better. I will then work with the executive team and then get back in front of the staff to tell them what I have learnt from them and to talk about our strategy.”
Regarding Bauer’s commitment to Australia, Veit Dengler told Mediaweek: “We are committed to having a thriving business here. As we have shown with the acquisition of the home titles from News Corp. When it makes sense we are also willing to invest here.”
When asked if Bauer was in a much better position now than two years ago, Dengler said “most definitely”.
Dengler has been planning this change at the top for some time: “Paul is turning 67 soon and this has been on the cards for a while. Talks have been ongoing for some time and this is the best practice of how succession should happen. We had a long time to talk about it and we had a strong internal bench and at the end we all agreed that Brendon would be the best successor.”
Dengler didn’t feel qualified to discuss any of Dykzeul’s Australia predecessors, but he did say: “I can tell you that Paul did a lot of transformation on what has been a turnaround in the past two years. Part of the work was establishing a young management team with a number of potential [future leaders].”
Hill has been with the magazine business since 2006 when it was still ACP Magazines, just before the titles were sold to private equity investors CVC. Asked if the business had been unstable since Bauer arrived, Hill replied: “Media is always changing and never stands still. There are always launches, acquisitions and other things and we will keep pushing the business into the future.”
Magazine publishers, like many other people in the media, have been working hard to diversify their income streams. When it comes to how secure Bauer feels about its future, Dengler said: “Only the paranoid survive, to quote Andy Grove. If we are not paranoid we should be, and we are very conscious of that.”
Hill added: “Media companies globally are chasing revenue streams. It will take brave decisions, and a few mistakes will be made along the way. I am very confident and comfortable with what we’ve got – great audiences and great storytellers and we are in a prime position to launch new revenue models and monetise audiences in different ways.
“We are very lucky we have access to a global company and we have a lot of knowledge to call on.”
Dengler on diversification: “We also have to make sure the core of Bauer Media is healthy, and the core is magazines. We think there is a lot of life in magazines. Bauer is different from other publishers because we are always focused on the reader. We do a lot of consumer research to make sure we have great products with high quality.
“In order to be future-proofed we need to find new revenue sources and that takes some experimentation and will require some acquisition and we are open to all of that.”
Hill said because of Bauer’s magazine expertise, it makes them able to launch and acquire titles that others might not be successful with.
“We are set up with great processes and systems and we have great relationships with printers and a global paper-buying network. We are very well positioned to consolidate and launch.
“We have done quite a bit of one-shot publishing and when they are successful we make them more regular. We are always looking for opportunities.”
Tomorrow: Part 2 of Bauer Media Australia in transition
Farewell to Paul Dykzeul: The new boss on the old boss
Australia’s importance to Bauer Media global revenues