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NZME boss Jane Hastings quits, as Aussie owner mulls options

NZME boss Jane Hastings quits, as Australian owner considers options

By Fiona Rotherham

March 9 (BusinessDesk) - News publisher and broadcaster NZME's chief executive Jane Hastings has resigned to “pursue other opportunities” after 18 months in the role as its Australian owner, APN News & Media, considers its options for the New Zealand business.

APN, the publisher of the New Zealand Herald newspaper and operator of The Radio Network, said Hastings will be replaced by the current NZME chief financial officer Michael Boggs on April 8.

Hastings has worked for APN since May 2012 and was formerly chief executive of The Radio Network before taking on running the company’s New Zealand publishing, radio, and digital businesses. She's been responsible for integrating the New Zealand media company's radio and publishing arms across platforms and a headquarters shift.

When APN announced her appointment in 2014, it said it would enable more strategic collaboration across the New Zealand businesses, including greater cross-selling opportunities for its media brands.

NZME's new CEO Boggs will report to APN chief executive Ciaran Davis who said Hastings had transformed the business into an “audience-centric, content-driven media and entertainment business”.

Hastings said while it was a difficult decision to resign, she thought it was time to pursue other opportunities

APN shelved plans last month for a long-touted initial public offering of NZME due to a weak advertising market while at the same time putting its Australia regional newspapers up for sale. Plans to institute paywalled access to its free news sites appeared also to have been shelved earlier.

The Australian company reported a loss of A$10.2 million in 2015, including a A$48.3 million charge against the Australia regional papers’ mastheads. NZME posted a 3 percent decline in revenue to $433 million and an 8 percent drop in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $74.9 million.

APN said last month while it wanted NZME to be appropriately funded to maintain its position in the New Zealand market, it needed to prioritise its strategic investments and focus on assets that deliver the greatest shareholder return. It was actively considering options for the business and will update shareholders further at the annual meeting in May.

The Australian newspaper has reported that its owner, News Corp, is believed to be considering a purchase of APN’s regional community newspapers. News Corp has a network of 111 local mastheads and already holds a stake of almost 15 percent in APN.

APN's dual-listed shares last traded at 65 cents on the NZX and 57.5 Australian cents on the ASX.

(BusinessDesk)

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