Fairfax’s Hywood Champions Free-To-Air Merger

Fairfax’s Hywood Champions Free-To-Air Merger

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood has touted the possibility of a merger between the publisher and a free-to-air (FTA) network.

Speaking at Macquarie’s annual conference, Hywood championed Fairfax’s print assets while spruiking his own openness to a possible merger.

According to The Australian, Hywood said given Fairfax was “thriving”, it would be “well placed to take advantage of opportunities as they arise”.

Hywood touched on the media reforms during the conversation, which would’ve previously restricted a merger.

“When media laws change or any regulatory environment changes, industry moves to reflect that regulatory model.”

“All media companies are looking at opportunities and have to make their own judgments.”

“This is not the 80s, where debt and ego ruled the world,” he added.

“I think people are managing these businesses very rationally and we will make very rational ­decisions in the shareholders’ interests.”

When questioned whether Fairfax would follow the likes of News Corp in selling off its regional titles, Hywood said it was unlikely.

“In terms of any split between Metro and ACM (Australian Community Media), there’s not much in it; it’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

“Our view of our regional business is that it throws off a lot of cash, it’s very well and tightly managed.

“We believe it is very profitable in comparison to other operators in the sector and we have proven over a number of years that we can very effectively use our cash from our traditional businesses to help grow new businesses and to maximise shareholder value … We’re looking at options.”

The comments follow rumours Seven West Media (SWM) and Fairfax are reportedly talking about a potential merger deal, with Nine Entertainment failing to reach an agreement with the latter.

A possible merger of SWM and Fairfax – estimated to be worth over $2.3 billion – was being discussed in late April between the two parties, with SWM’s share price volatility understood to be the only thing holding the deal back.

Merger talks between SWM and Fairfax were reported as being in their infancy in September last year.

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