Nine completes takeover and becomes owner of Macquarie Media

Nine is officially the owner of Macquarie Media, with the transaction completed Friday and Nine commencing town halls with Macquarie employees this week.

Nine CEO Hugh Marks said he is “tremendously excited” about what owning the radio station will do for the business, and thanked staff for their patience during the process, which has involved the departure of Macquarie Media CEO Adam Lang and 3AW boss Stephen Beers, the appointment of Tom Malone as managing director of Nine’s radio assets, and Macquarie Sports Radio ceasing to broadcast.

“I’m conscious that events in recent weeks have led to some uncertainty within the business and I want to thank you for your patience,” Marks wrote in an email to Macquarie staff, entitled ‘The opportunity in front of us’.

“We are working hard to align these two businesses to capitalise on the benefits of the transaction (such as aligning both sales teams, particularly from an agency perspective) but there are still some decisions, such as whether there will be relocations in some states, to be resolved. We will continue to communicate with you as decisions are made.”

Nine previously predicted $10m in savings from combining the companies’ support and administrative functions.

Marks said the takeover is, above all, an “opportunity” for Nine

Marks expressed particular enthusiasm for talk radio’s “innate power to drive debate and to speak up on behalf of the community”, and Macquarie’s talent, including 2GB’s controversial Alan Jones, whose comments in August about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern caused hundreds of advertisers to pull support from the station. In response, Macquarie apologised to advertisers and commenced a review of 2GB’s content.

“We have a great opportunity to lead the news conversation in each city and better engage with our audiences – be they television viewers, print and online readers or now listeners via radio or online. We are big believers in the power of Macquarie’s talk radio network and in its people,” Marks said.

“We are confident that with the full backing of Nine we can continue to grow the radio business and will work to ensure that you have the support, infrastructure and clarity to be able to do what you do best.

“We also believe that Macquarie’s stations need to have distinctive voices. Our stations of 2GB, 3AW, 4BC and 6PR need to be there for their communities as it is their ability to connect with their audiences and help drive the agenda in each city that helps ensures they are an integral part of the daily lives of their listeners.”

Marks visited 2GB’s Sydney offices on Friday, and will spend time in 3AW’s Melbourne offices on Wednesday, to answer questions and introduce the Nine leadership team to Macquarie staff, including Malone. 2GB and 3AW are Sydney and Melbourne’s most-listened-to radio stations, respectively.

“Some of you will already have met Tom in recent days but in many ways this is a return to his radio roots,” Marks said.

“He began as a cadet at 2UE, before going on to be a political reporter at the station, who would spend his weekend doing around the grounds for the Continuous Call Team.”

Malone was appointed to the role last week

Nine will invest more than $400m a year in news and editorial content, Marks said.

“All of this serves to ensure we are the place where communities connect, engage and debate – across all platforms – I’m excited by the potential of what we can do together. I hope you are too, he said.

Nine, which became a majority shareholder in Macquarie thanks to the Fairfax merger last year, began its takeover bid in August, and guaranteed the transaction when it attained a 90% stake in the asset last month. The deal valued the radio company at $275.4m, with Nine paying $113.9m – funded by cash reserves and existing debt facilities – for the remaining 45.5% share.


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