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Nine signs Fairfax merger deal

Nine Entertainment has struck a deal to merge with rival Australian media company Fairfax Media.

Nine, a major sports broadcaster, will acquire a 51.1-per-cent stake in the combined business.

Nine’s Hugh Marks will serve as the new chief executive and Peter Costello, the Nine chairman, will lead the board of the new business.

Marks said that the main motivation behind the deal was to take control of Fairfax’s streaming service, Stan, and its property business, Domain.

In a joint statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the companies said that they would “review the scope and breadth of the combined business, to align with its strategic objectives and its digital future”.

Pending regulatory approval, the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Marks told staff at Nine: “This merger is not about cost reductions. This merger is all about creating a business with the diversity and scale of revenues and earnings to be able to continue to do what we are all about: Create great content, distribute it broadly and engage our audiences and advertisers.”

Last month, Nine reached an agreement to commence its coverage of the Australian Open tennis grand slam a year early, in 2019. Nine will have the rights for six years, until 2024.