Media reacts to McCarthy appointment

THE region’s media collectively heralded Brian McCarthy as Fairfax Media’s new CEO today, with analysts and investors reported as giving the former Rural Press man a positive welcome.

Mr McCarthy’s appointment had been widely expected, meaning much of the media focus was on the other major outcome of yesterday’s board meeting – the announcement that the company will reduce its dividend for shareholders to combat its hefty debt.

The Australian newspaper tied the dividend cut to a new era for the company with a story titled “Dividend cut launches `new McCarthyism’”.

Another article in the same paper said: “The way is now open for Mr McCarthy to run Fairfax in the same lean, cost-cutting manner he ran Rural Press. He has spoken of going through Fairfax’s costs ‘line by line’.”

CommSec analyst Craig Shepherd said the appointment of Mr McCarthy was welcome and the changes being made by Fairfax were positive, AAP reported.

“Obviously they’ve seen him successfully run Rural Press in the past,” Mr Shepherd said. “We’ve been looking for these sort of changes.”

PBL Media chief executive Ian Law told the Australian Financial Review, a Fairfax publication, that Mr McCarthy is very effective across all aspects of the business, from revenue-generation to cost management. Mr Law, who worked with the new Fairfax chief at Rural Press, has the utmost respect for his managerial style, the report said.

Another AFR story said: “McCarthy has a reputation for stringent cost management which helped Rural Press become a favourite of fund managers and led to the Fairfax takeover, pushed by John Brehmer Fairfax, who was also behind the push for this leadership change according to Peter Morgan of 452 Capital.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, under the headline of “Dividend cut and new chief for frugal times”, said: “The promotion of the straight-talking former Rural Press boss to the top job is expected to herald a more frugal regime, following Fairfax’s aggressive expansion under David Kirk from a metropolitan newspaper publisher into a company with regional titles, internet sites and talkback radio stations.”


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