Fairfax Media re-commits to Monday to Friday print editions as ‘best commercial outcome for shareholders’

Fairfax Media has re-committed to the future of the Monday to Friday print editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with CEO Greg Hywood stating its the “best commercial outcome for shareholders”.

Greg Hywood: Six and seven-day publishing is the best commercial outcome for shareholders

In May, Hywood said it was “inevitable” the company would close its weekday metro print editions in favour of “weekend-only or more targeted printing”.

The comments, made in a speech to the Macquarie Australia Conference, sent the wider industry into months of speculation around when Fairfax would cease Monday to Friday printing.

Speaking to investors following the company’s financial results update, Hywood said: “We were absolutely upfront and have been through the process of structural change, that we all know print has an end game somewhere down the track.

“We have been managing the transition from print to digital and we have a hybrid model at the moment.

“Clearly, we have looked at all options and while Monday to Friday can’t ever be off the table because it may well be the right thing for shareholders down the track, our view is that for some years yet, six and seven day publishing is the best commercial outcome for shareholders.

“That may change over time, but not yet.”

Fairfax today also confirmed plans to separate Domain out as separately listed ASX entity.

Hywood said the “business was ready”, so the timing is right.

“It’s got the scale of revenue, it’s got earnings, it’s got the audience, it’s got the leadership team that’s in place under Antony [Catalano] which is doing an exceptionally good job. It’s established so it’s less reliant obviously overtime on Fairfax,” he said.

“It was ready to get its own valuation and I thought the business needed to attract investors who otherwise wouldn’t invest in that business.”

The announcement follows a slow-down in real estate listings, but Hywood said Fairfax simply sees this as “cyclical”.

“We’ve continued to invest through the course of that cycle,” he said.

“We’ve seen really strong development of product, really strong increases in audiences, particularly around that mobile Domain app space where we have an equivalent audience to the competitor and where we get 70% of leads.

It’s around a strategic perspective of the business rather than a short-term view of where it is right now.

“The point is, it’s ready, it’s good for the business, it’s good for shareholders,” he added.


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