Fairfax captain gives a farewell salute
After an unpleasant public skirmish with board members John B. and Nicholas Fairfax, the chairman of Fairfax Media has agreed to step down at the company’s annual meeting next month.
Ron Walker clearly believes he has had a victory against the Fairfaxes, who declined to be involved in this story. Even though the deputy chairman Roger Corbett expected to top the job.
Ron Walker aim is to sink claims by the Fairfaxes that the company has gone backwards under his four-year stewardship, flinging money around and playing fast and loose with corporate governance.
Father and son point, in particular, to the acquisitions made as the global print media industry engaged in a desperate struggle for survival.
”The task ahead of me when I eventually became deputy chairman and then chairman was the fact that if the board had done nothing to revitalise the company and continued to rely on the revenue stream from The Age, The Sydney Morning Heraldand The Financial Review, this company would not be in existence today,” Walker says.
”Today we have, on a world scale, one of the best internet operations in the world. What has happened to Fairfax in the meantime? It has withstood one of the worst economic hurricanes in memory.
”After all, we made $605 million EBITDA this year. Most media companies throughout the world are either closing down or they’re losing money.”
According to Goldman Sachs JBWere, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation did, in fact, rise significantly in the past four years. Revenue also rose, from $1.9 billion to $2.6 billion, with online revenue climbing from $55 million to $263 million.
But net profit shrank from $238 million to $227 million.