One of Australia’s top 200 companies has brought more than just their advertisement projects out into the public arena.
A dispute within Australian media group APN has resulted in the resignation of the company’s director Pierce Cody, allegedly quitting the board over “governance concerns” within the organisation, the Australian Financial Review reported last night.
APN's New Zealand businesses include the New Zealand Herald and the TRN radio network which includes NewsTalkZB
The accusations against APN have been denied by the company saying the decision was instead made on Mr Cody’s own terms because he was not appointed to head the group’s new planned outdoor joint venture with Quadrant Private Equity, worth around $200 million.
Mr Cody has since gone public with his concerns through a statement emailed to the company and key stakeholders last night, a highly unusual move for a company director of any kind.
The email composed by Mr Cody stated that after more than 16 years’ involvement within the company and 10 years on the board, he would be resigning from the organisation with immediate effect.
“Unfortunately I have found it necessary to resign due to unresolved concerns I have had with some ongoing areas of corporate governance,” said Mr Cody in a statement.
APN, however, has since then dismissed the concerns brought forward by Mr Cody.
“There is no basis to question the corporate governance at APN,” said an APN spokesperson.
“The real reason regarding Mr Cody’s departure is related to the fact he didn’t get the role he thought he should have, in the expanded outdoor joint venture [with Quadrant Private Equity].”
Mr Cody said last night that he “aggressively rebutted” APN’s response, declining to comment any further on the matter.
$A45 million loss
APN's full year revenue to December edged up 1% to $A1.07 billion, the company said in a statement to the ASX.
A $A159 million impairment charge associated with restructuring pushed the company to a $A45 million half-year loss (against a $A94 million profit in the year-ago period).
His resignation follows uncertainty in recent months regarding the level of board involvement in the company’s management, with unconfirmed reports management moves to write down asset values were ‘watered down’ by several sections of the board.
The initial split from the company’s director role is even more note worthy regarding his long and close relationship with Irish media moguls the O’Reilly family, as Gavin O’Reilly has chaired APN since 2004 and is also chief executive of APN’s Dublin-based major shareholder Independent News & Media.
A corporate governance expert has described Mr Cody’s abrupt decision to go public as a rare but welcome move.
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