Nine Network CEO Gyngell Named Head of PBL Media

Nine Parent Company May Be Preparing for IPO

SYDNEY -- Nine Network chief executive David Gyngell has been named CEO of Nine’s parent company PBL Media, following the sudden resignation of Ian Law on Tuesday, with reports that PBL owner, private equity group CVC Asia Pacific is preparing the company for a $5 billion stock market float in 2011. 

Gyngell will retain his position as CEO of the Nine Network. 

“We are thrilled to have the best media executive in the country to lead the business. The Nine Network, including Channel Nine and the Go and Gem multi-channels, are in the ascendancy in an enormously competitive environment. The performance of Nine is a credit to David and his team. We believe he will make a great contribution across the group in the new role," Tim Parker, PBL Media chairman, said in a statement issued tonight.

“I am delighted to be taking up the role as chief executive officer of PBL Media and I am very excited about its future. I remain fully committed to running Nine as part of this role, but believe that I will help PBL Media maximize its potential across the group. I am fully dedicated to leading the business through its next phase of growth and development," Gyngell, a former chief executive of Granada America, added.

PBL Media includes the Nine Network, magazine publisher ACP Magazines, 50% of digital media property, ninemsn in a joint venture with Microsoft and 33% of Sky News Australia. 

Law was appointed CEO of PBL Media when CVC Asia Pacific took the reins in 2007, after acquiring the business from James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings in deals worth a combined $5 billion. He is resigning to pursue other interests. 

The moves at PBL Media come at a volatile period in both the ownership of and operations at Australia’s commercial TV networks. 

A fortnight ago James Packer, a close personal friend of Gyngell –  the pair grew up together and Gyngell was Packer’s best man at his wedding several years ago -- spent $280 million for a 17.8% stake in third-ranked TV group Ten Network Holdings, subsequently agreeing to sell half that stake to Lachlan Murdoch. Speculation was rife then that Gyngell might jump ship from Nine to join Packer and Murdoch at Ten. 

Ten said earlier this week that it has offered board seats to both Packer and Murdoch. 

The number one rating network, Seven, which is part of the of Seven Media Group, is jointly owned by Kerry Stokes and private equity firm KKR.

All three Australian commercial TV networks have invested heavily in digital multichannels in the last 12 months, which are experiencing significant audience growth, while contributing to audience fragmentation. Ad revenues have rebounded this year after the global financial crisis with Australian TV networks expected to book $4 billion in ad revenues in 2011. 

The Nine Network has had the strongest audience growth of all networks this year in both its main channel and the target demographic of 25-54 year olds, and in its younger skewing digital channel, Go!.