Who is Nine’s new chair Catherine West?

“West has an opportunity to look very closely at why those women over the course of a decade, why those women were not able to raise those concerns internally within the company, and how the systems and structures in this company appear to have failed them. That is an opportunity that now sits in front of the board,” she said.

Beyond the structural and cultural issues, West will also have to prove her mettle and convince the market she can step up to the task of leading a $2 billion diversified media company.

She was in effect the sole choice for chair from the existing suite of directors, given she was deputy and the rest were either precluded or not in the frame.

Former Nine chair Peter Costello.

Former Nine chair Peter Costello.Credit: Rhett Wyman

Andrew Lancaster, the influential representative for Nine’s largest shareholder, Bruce Gordon, and CEO of Gordon’s WIN Corporation, was precluded because of a commercial conflict. Mandy Pattinson was appointed only in late 2023. Mickie Rosen, the last survivor from the Fairfax days, lives in the United States. Samantha Lewis, a director since 2017, was understood not to have been interested.

West was one of three Nine directors carried over during Nine’s merger with Fairfax in 2018. Rosen was one of the three Fairfax directors, alongside Nick Falloon and Patrick Allaway.

The appointment of West is also likely to trigger a speedier refresh of Nine’s board. Costello’s dominant presence on the board had proved a barrier to bringing in new blood, sources with knowledge of the process speaking on condition of anonymity said, slowing down the process.

The search for new directors, led by Costello, began after the departure of Falloon, the former deputy chair, in 2022. Prominent media figures including Collingwood president Jeff Browne and former Network Ten boss Paul Anderson were approached. Finding directors with media and strategic experience to aid her will be key.

The board reset also presents an opportunity for changes at Nine’s majority-owned digital real estate company Domain, which has lost some of its zip against its key competitor, REA Group – owned by News Corp.

Falloon and Costello famously clashed over the course of Falloon’s four years on Nine’s board before he stepped down. His departure, shortly after Allaway’s, in effect handed Costello control over a previously factional Nine board.

Falloon remains chair of Domain. Costello’s exit may now provide the opportunity for change and greater collaboration between Nine and Domain – if West can rebuild that relationship.

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