Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Stokes like a kid in a toy shop

Posted by occidentprone on September 16, 2008

Some blokes play train sets as they chuff into retirement, some buy the sexy sports car they couldn’t afford 20 years before when they would have looked good in it. Kerry Stokes’ preoccupation into his autumn years is The West Australian.

After a failed tilt earlier this year, Stokes is finally getting his train set.

Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes and his deputy Peter Gammell have been invited to join the board of West Australian Newspapers, WAN chairman Peter Mansell said today.

The Seven Network is WAN’s largest shareholder with about 22.4 per cent of WAN’s ordinary shares.

The move comes five months after Seven made an unsuccessful bid to oust members of the WAN board, including Mr Mansell, in favour of Mr Stokes and Mr Gammell. (Source: WAToday)

The West tells it like this:

Less than five months ago, Mr Stokes lost his bid to win two seats on the WAN board.

The move to appoint Mr Stokes and Mr Gammell was rejected by a shareholder vote at a meeting in Perth of 800 investors.

The billionaire had then argued that the WAN board needed to be “refreshed”, citing the company’s recent financial performance and newspaper distribution problems.

Does this mean the writing is on the wall for The West‘s Little Editor Who Could, Paul Armstrong? Stokes has made no secret of his desire for a different kind of newspaper and now he has the shares and the board influence to start cracking skulls.

Crikey says: 

The West Australian’s editor Paul Armstrong might have finally prevailed over his bitter political enemies Alan Carpenter and Jim McGinty with the defeat of the Labor state government, but it will probably be a short-lived victory as Stokes and most independent observers clearly believe he should go.

The fate of Armstrong will be the first big test of whether Stokes is exercising control, because Armstrong ran quite a partisan campaign against the billionaire during this year’s proxy battle.

Then there’s the issue of Seven being more than $100 million under water on its 23% stake in WAN and the stock is down another 23c at $8.52 this morning.

Stokes will want some fast action on things like The West’s lame website, falling circulation and the ongoing disputes with newsagents.

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2 Responses to “Stokes like a kid in a toy shop”

  1. Sunili said

    OOoh that’s exciting! Although maybe not for you? Since I don’t read the papers OR perthnow.com etc, I rely on you to find out what’s of interest (that is worth my interest) in Perthville. But, actually, I’m sure nothing will change, so don’t worry 😉

  2. occidentprone said

    Yes, it’s big news and I’m waiting to see how this affects the paper. I think there’ll be some moves that readers will notice.

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