APN Outdoor appoints former Ten boss James Warburton as CEO

One of the industry’s most experienced commercial operators is to return to media with the appointment of James Warburton as the new CEO of APN Outdoor.

Warburton will join the ASX-listed company in January after finishing his stint running V8 Supercars.

Warburton made his name in the media industry during successful roles leading Seven’s commercial operation and Universal McCann. He left media in 2013 after a short, and disastrous, stint as CEO of Network Ten.

The announcement comes a day after Warburton announced he would step down from his role at V8 Supercars.

Warburton will replace former APN Outdoor CEO Richard Herring, who retired at the end of last month after 22 years with the out of home company.

According to an ASX announcement, Warburton will be on a salary of $1m a year, plus significant bonuses if he hits his targets. Predecessor Herring was on a base salary of $734,000.

Once nicknamed “Mr Ambitious” – Warburton had been seen as a future boss of Seven where he was chief sales officer, but in 2011 was poached by shareholder Lachlan Murdoch to run Ten.

The move proved to be a mistake for Warburton after a messy legal battle with Seven over his non-compete period left him sitting on the sidelines for several months, while Lachlan Murdoch stood in as caretaker CEO.

Warburton was then given little more than a year to turn around the already ailing network before being fired by the board.

However, his short time at Ten did give him some exposure to the outdoor world thanks to Ten’s then ownership of Eye, of which he was a director.

Warburton will also be joining the small club of senior Australian media company executives, along with News Corp’s Michael Miller and Damian Eales, to have marketing experience, having been GM of marketing at Hyundai.

APN Outdoor chairman Doug Flynn said Warburton brings to the company “extensive executive leadership experience” with a “significant understanding” of complex media environments.

“On behalf of the Board, I welcome James to the APN Outdoor team. We also thank Wayne Castle for his significant contribution as Interim CEO during this period of change. Wayne will revert to his previous role as CFO upon James’ commencement with the group,” Flynn said.

Warburton said he was excited to return to the media industry.

“APN Outdoor has a strong reputation for innovation in the out-of-home industry, demonstrated by its leadership position in digital roadside billboards in Australia and its leadership in New Zealand via the strategic use of data to enhance the value proposition of out-of-home for advertisers,” Warburton said.

“I look forward to working with the board, management and staff at APN Outdoor to grow the business, to continue to build on its leading market position, and to provide innovative solutions to support both advertisers and the overall out of home industry.”

He will commence his role on January 22 next year.


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