APN CEO Brett Chenoweth, chairman Peter Hunt and three directors resign

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Resigned: Chenoweth

peter hunt

Resigned: Peter Hunt

The crisis at the heart of APN News & Media has deepened with the company this evening announcing the resignation of CEO Brett Chenoweth, chairman Peter Hunt and directors John Harvey, Melinda Conrad and John Maasland.

APN is Australasia’s third largest newspaper publisher after News Limited and Fairfax.

As well as regional newspapers in Queensland and New South Wales, the company owns the NZ Herald and a string of other Kiwi titles. It also owns jointly with Clear Channel the Australian Radio Network – the parent company of Mix FM and Classic Hits – and outdoor company Adshel. APN News & Media also owns half of APN Outdoor.

The current crisis appears to have been triggered by a market update late last year signalling fading revenues and a possible need to run a capital raising. Late last week, APN’s biggest shareholder, the Ireland-based Independent News & Media called for CEO Brett Chenoweth to be removed. The company is currently in a trading halt on the ASX.

According to tonight’s announcement, the board had been unable to agree on the best way to reduce the company’s debts with the outgoing directors supporting a capital raising at the same time the company announced its annual results. This announcement is still due to take place on Thursday.

According to the announcement, a search firm will be appointed to find a new CEO and new board members.

The resignations are effective from 9am Eastern tomorrow. A spokesman told Mumbrella that an acting CEO would be appointed “within the next few days”.

Deputy chairman Ted Harris is not among the resignations. Harris acted up as chairman last year after the departure of previous chairman Gavin O’Reilly.

The announcement:



  1. Gordon
    18 Feb 13
    6:57 pm

  2. wow what a mess..

  3. Ryan
    18 Feb 13
    8:19 pm

  4. Plenty of work ahead for APN.
    They need to rationalise their newspaper business & find some money to invest in a strong digital strategy to capture the attention of Australians online.
    Otherwise, they dont have much time left as a company.

  5. Rupert
    19 Feb 13
    9:56 am

  6. APN is completely captive to its old school culture, from the bottom up. It is a print business that acts as a holding company for a bunch of other media assets (radio, outdoor). It is not, and never has been, an integrated media business. That is its biggest problem. Their culture is derived from regional Qld publishing operations, where print rules and deals are done to maintain local monopolies. All they’ve done in recent years is slap a superficial digital layer on top of existing business verticals and pretend that is a strategy. Chenoweth was dealt a tough hand, but he’s a grown up and he went into it with his eyes open. Turns out he’s been “grinf***ked” like all the other (non-Irish) big city management types who went before him.
    APN represents a shameful wasted opportunity, and INM are culpable. The Irish ripped so much money out of APN over the recent years that even if there had been a local will to turn it around it was never going to possible doing it on a shoestring.

  7. Bob trevel
    19 Feb 13
    4:14 pm

  8. Rupert is on the money in so many ways. Until recently I worked there for ten years. All the shareholders did was squeeze us year after year to work harder with fewer materials and rapidly aging hardware and software. When people left, they were not replaced and the suckers left behind were expected to just work harder to make up the shortfall. There are a lot of good people there who mean well but the bean counters are squeezing them to the point of breakdown. I’m so glad I no longer work there but I worry for my workmates still stuck with the growing frustrations and theo going shortmindedness of upper management.

  9. MI5
    8 Mar 13
    2:56 pm

  10. I worked at APN Online for almost two years. When I came in their Search4 brand of websites was just beginning to take off. Online had a staff of just seven really motivated people. Within a matter of months it blew up to almost 40–not to mention it became upper management heavy. Then upper management and the Board of Directors decided that Search4 should go and everything get rebranded to Finda. In just 30 DAYS. I have over 15 years in the creative industry and knew it would flop. You just can’t do things like this. And of course, it failed. The wasting of time, money and effort to make this silliness happen was staggering and mind numbing. In the end, it all fell apart like a house of cards–and the upper management types ran out of there like rats, while people like me were handed pink slips and dumped into the street to look for work elsewhere.

  11. Rupert
    18 Mar 13
    4:59 pm

  12. @MI5 interesting points. It is worth mentioning that those Search4 brands had been supported by nearly $1 million in SEM over the previous year. Buying traffic like that is never a good idea. And APN thought they could make Search4 a national classies brand. That was never going to work.
    You’re partly right about Finda, though. It was a dumb name and the execution was crap. The group CEO at the time chose the name and insisted it be launched in Toowoomba and “proved” before going into other markets. So the online staff were fighting that battle with one hand tied behind their back.
    And then there is the print-online divide. The newspaper guys just want the interweb to go away and leave them to keep printing papers.
    As I said earlier, APN’s problem is that it was (and still is) completely captive to its old school culture.