Kim Williams is stepping down as CEO of News Corp Australia after less than two years.
Updated | Kim Williams has stepped down as chief executive of News Corp Australia after less than two years in the job, to be replaced by Julian Clarke effective next Monday.
Clarke has been with News Corp or associated companies for 30 years, most recently as chairman of the Herald and Weekly Times and he has also served on the board of the main company.
The news, announced to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning, comes as News Corp navigates a structural separation of its business and grapples with a subscription model for its newspaper websites. The Australian, owned by News Corp, is reporting that more changes are expected to follow at the company.
The sudden move had little effect on the company share price, which was up 2¢ to $17.92 at 1pm on Friday on the day’s trading.
Meanwhile, there is at least one familiar face back in the ranks of senior management at News Corp’s headquarters in Holt Street, Surry Hills. New York Post editor Col Allan, who once edited Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, is here during the federal election campaign.
Last month the company announced that Allan has been seconded to the Sydney office to provide “extra editorial leadership” for the next few months. While he is officially due to return to New York, there is talk that his tenure could be extended indefinitely.
As well as newspapers, News Corp Australia owns 50 per cent of Foxtel and a majority share in the REA Group.
Murdoch praises Clarke
News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch described Clarke as “an experienced executive with a unique understanding of our company’s culture, and the immense energy and clarity of vision necessary to drive our properties forward at this challenging time for all media in all countries”.
Williams moved across from the pay TV business to replace John Hartigan as group CEO in December 2011. The ASX announcement did not give a reason for his departure after such as short stint, beyond a quote from News Corp’s global chief executive Robert Thomson saying that Williams “feels now is the right moment to leave the company”.
In his ASX quote, Williams does not discuss the reasons for his departure.
“I am confident that I leave the company in a strong position and with good foundations for the future,” he says. “It has been a privilege to work for News Corp across almost 20 years, and I have no doubt it will remain the most memorable element in my professional commercial life. News has many of the finest people in media in our country, and I salute them and their continuing efforts in their service of Australia and Australians.”
A decision not made lightly
In an email to News Corp staff, quoted in The Australian, Williams adds that the decision was not “made lightly”.
“An action like this is always taken with a heavy heart and a mixed bag of feelings and reflections on a wide range of experiences with News Corp across almost 20 years,” Williams says.
“It is certainly not a decision made lightly, or without an awareness of the impact decisions like this inevitably have on many close colleagues, clients and diverse bodies within the media community.”
Murdoch thanked Williams for his two decades of service to the company and friendship to the Murdoch family.
“Kim has been a steady and courageous leader at a time when our businesses have faced unprecedented pressure and economic challenges,” Murdoch says. “I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment, and the blood, sweat and tears he has put into News Corp Australia. We wish him well in all future endeavours and look forward to continuing our friendship in the years to come.”