Nine’s six person board currently comprises three directors with ties to the television company — chairman Peter Costello, Samantha Lewis and Catherine West; and three with ties to Fairfax — Mr Falloon, Ms Rosen and Mr Allaway, who will step down formally in early April.
Tensions between the Nine and former Fairfax board directors centred on decision making processes and a lack of transparency have increased over the two years since the merger. Those tensions were exposed by the abrupt resignation of chief executive Hugh Marks last November over a relationship with a member of his executive team, Alexi Baker.
The Fairfax and Nine directors were at loggerheads over Mr Marks’ resignation, and some directors did not feel adequately informed about important developments inside the company. The Australian reported last year the Nine board was split over whether to hold an independent investigation into Mr Marks’ relationship. An external investigation into Mr Marks was not conducted.
Any further changes to the board could delay the search process for a new chief executive to replace Mr Marks.
Mr Allaway did not give specific reasons for his departure other than to say he had a large workload, but he is known for his integrity and strict adherence to corporate governance. Mr Allaway abruptly resigned from the board of Woolworths Holdings in February 2019 after it was revealed former David Jones boss David Thomas had been accused of discrimination against a staff member and was the subject of an external investigation (the investigation found no evidence). Mr Allaway declined to comment on his intention to resign from Nine when asked early on Monday.
Ms Rosen was announced as a director of Bank of Queensland on February 15, which is chaired by Mr Allaway. Ms Rosen did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
A Nine spokesperson declined to comment on Monday afternoon whether Mr Allaway or Ms Rosen had expressed intentions to resign, but said any announcements about changes to the Board would be announced to the ASX as is appropriate. The ASX announcement of Mr Allaway’s departure was on Monday evening.
“I thank Patrick for his commitment to Nine and, prior to the merger, to Fairfax. Together we have worked to ensure a successful future for this media business and I wish him well for the future,” Mr Costello said.
The resignation of Mr Allway leaves the board with less influence from figures that previously led Fairfax. Should Mr Falloon and Ms Rosen also leave the company it would leave Nine’s chief publishing and digital officer Chris Janz as the only remaining senior figure from the Fairfax era.
There is uncertainty over Mr Falloon’s place on the board as he is being investigated over allegations he gave his son Troy Falloon access to a corporate golf club membership from the middle of 2018, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity
People familiar with Mr Falloon’s decision said he gave his son access to the membership so they could play golf together. Golf cards revealed they have played at least three times together since mid-2018 including last September. The corporate membership, paid for by Nine, had Troy Falloon’s name on the documents as late as last July. A Nine spokesperson declined to comment on the matter because an investigation is underway.
Nine has engaged legal firm Ashurst to investigate the claims with general counsel Rachel Launders. Mr Falloon, who is also the chairman of online property portal group Domain, told The Herald and The Age on Monday that he had not used any company money and had not misused the corporate membership. This newspaper is not suggesting he misused company funds.
Nine did not clarify at its half-year financial results last week when Mr Marks’ replacement would be confirmed.
Four media executives appeared in front of the board of directors in early February – Stan boss Mike Sneesby and Nine publishing and chief digital officer Mr Janz, Carl Fennessy, the former joint-CEO of major production house Endemol Shine Australia, and David Lynn, the former president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks.
Zoe Samios is a media and telecommunications reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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