New-look Nine Entertainment to launch as Fairfax Media disappears

Hugh Marks

• Hugh Marks tells staff: “The scope of the opportunity is quite breathtaking”

The Federal Court yesterday approved the merger of Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media, clearing the way for the new company to begin trading on the ASX on Monday December 10.

Fairfax Media shares shall cease trading on today, November 28.

The chief executive of the two companies, which will trade as Nine Entertainment Co, Hugh Marks, has told staff:

“This remarkable merger draws together the quality, strengths, assets and reach of two of Australia’s most famous and successful brands to produce one business – which shapes as one of the largest and most diverse media organisations in the country.

“The scope of the opportunity is quite breathtaking. In addition to our existing television and digital businesses, Nine will include the iconic mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review and through the transaction we will also move to 100% ownership of subscription video platform Stan. The combined business will also have majority ownership of Domain (60%) and the Macquarie Media (54.5%).”

Marks said the merger was about strategy for the future together and it offers opportunities for all employees, clients and audiences.

He added the company was now planning for its first day of operation, Monday December 10.

“There is still much to do, and the teams at Nine and Fairfax have been working together with goodwill from both sides to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

“Over the next fortnight, we will be in a position to share the new organisational structure and impact on the key divisions of the business.”

Marks promised staff he would be communicating regularly over the transition to one company and Nine is offering staff access to online information about the merger.

Antony Catalano, who tried to delay the merger again in court, told The Australian shortly after the decision that he was disappointed, and is considering all his options.

“I believed and continue to believe that at current share prices Fairfax shareholders were entitled to a better deal,” Catalano said.

“I have put my arguments to the court but I have not been successful. I respect the court’s decision and am unlikely to appeal but I will reserve my rights until my legal team has had a chance to review Her Honour’s written decision.”

That decision is to be handed down by Justice Jacqueline Gleeson in the next few days.

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