Fairfax Media Slashes 550 Jobs To Cut Costs Following M&A

Fairfax Media is the latest media company to slash jobs to cut costs. The “business improvement program” will be implemented during the first half of FY09, resulting in an overall staff trim of 5 percent, some 550 jobs across corporate, its Australian publishing and printing and Fairfax New Zealand. The move follows Fairfax’s merger with Rural Press and the acquisition of Southern Cross Radio; the company says it will achieve $45.5 million (AUD $53 million) in “synergies” by the end of this fiscal year. CEO David Kirk: “Media companies fit for the modern media world need to be lean and agile. This far-reaching program will position us well for the next stage of our growth and development.”

Fairfax will take a one-time charge of $43 million (AUD $50 million) as a result. The company expects $43 million (AUD $50 million) in annualized savings, about half of that in FY09. Release (pdf).

The Australian: “A pitched battled is now expected between Fairfax management and its heavily unionised workforce that has the potential to cause widespread disruption to its news services.” The paper says the amount of the charge averages about $91,000 AU per position “signalling that higher-paid journalists and managers are likely to be targeted.”

And from a memo to Fairfax staff: “There will be criticism from some, inside and outside the company, that these changes, particularly in editorial, will compromise quality and critical mass in the metro mastheads and their mission. We reject that.”