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HuffPost and Fairfax Media joint venture in doubt

HuffPost Australia’s joint venture with Fairfax Media could come to an end, Mumbrella understands.

Should the joint venture end, Mumbrella understands a series of redundancies could occur but the future of the publication is in the hands of HuffPost management.

The US-based company – which launched locally in 2015 – is in “high-level discussions” with JV partner Fairfax Media.

A spokesperson for the HuffPost Australia joint venture said no “definite decisions had been made”.

“The joint venture partners of HuffPost Australia are having high-level discussions regarding the future of the JV,” the spokesperson said.

It comes a week after HuffPost’s joint venture with The Times of India ended. HuffPost India continues to publish with reduced staff.

When HuffPost Australia launched in Australia in 2015 founder Arianna Huffington told Mumbrella the market was “very fertile ground” for the publisher’s commercial model.

At the time of launch, the company was led by Chris Janz, now managing director of Fairfax Media’s Metro Publishing division. He was later replaced by RocketFuel managing director, JJ Eastwood.

Ahead of the company’s launch into the Australian market, Koda Wang, the general manager overseeing HuffPost’s international expansion, said the company intended to become the market leader in Australia within three to five years, and was on the hunt for a local partner. Fairfax Media was confirmed as the local partner in August.

Since then, the company has been jointly owned by Fairfax Media (49%) and AOL (51%).

The company also named Lisa Wilkinson, former Today Show host as editor at large.

But in November last year, HuffPost Australia signalled the joint venture may come to an end, announcing it would form its own commercial team.  Two months ago, HuffPost named Sammy Lewis its first commercial director.

The discussions come as the same time as speculation of global redundancies at Oath – which represents Yahoo and AOL.

There has also been widespread coverage this week of what some describe as digital media crashwith several publishers missing their revenue targets and making redundancies.

 

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