Nine CEO In Surprise Resignation




Two days after revealing that his company was heading for a surprise 30% plus lift in operating earnings for the six months to December, Nine Entertainment Co, Hugh Marks quit on Saturday.

His abrupt resignation ended five years at the top of the country’s biggest media company. He was also the driver of Nine’s takeover of Fairfax Media in 2018.

The news will undermine Nine shares. They closed at $2.44 on Friday, down 1.6% on the day after hitting their highest level on Thursday since 2018 at $2.56.

Marks is not the only CEO to leave or face pressure for an affair with a staffer or inappropriate activity. In early September the CEO of QBE, Pat Regan, quit after a female staff complained about receiving an inappropriate email from the CEO.

In 2017 then Seven West Media, Tim Worner was exposed as having a consensual affair with a staff. He remained at the moment, but she left and Seven came under pressure over the handling of the fallout.

Mr. Marks told staff in an email on Saturday afternoon that he was resigning and the television, radio, and digital company would commence a formal process for his replacement. He did not go into detail about why he was leaving.

“I want to take this opportunity to tell you what a privilege it has been leading this business over a truly transformational period for both the media market generally, and particularly our business,” Mr. Marks said in the email, according to Fairfax/Nine media.

Thursday’s news of a surge in first-half earnings - revealed in a trading update and an address to the company’s virtual AGM, came as the company was revealing plans driven by marks to take its Stan streaming video business into sport with Rugby Union and top-line tennis.

That would pit Stan against the rapidly growing Kayo sports streaming service owned by News Corp’s Foxtel.

But the AGM also saw Nine chair, Peter Costello defend Mr. Marks over media stories of an affair earlier this year.

His resignation also coincides with industry speculation and reporting about his relationships with colleagues.

Mr. Costello was asked about an article in The Daily Telegraph from May which suggested Mr. Marks was in a relationship with his executive assistant, Jane Routledge. Mr. Costello told the meeting that Mr. Marks had not breached any company policies.

But an article in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Saturday reported Mr. Marks was in a relationship with Nine’s former managing director of commercial Alexi Baker. The relationship began when the pair were working together and Ms. Baker reported to the chief executive.