Nine appoints recruitment firm Spencer Stuart to search for new CEO

Nine Entertainment Co’s board of directors has hired recruitment firm Spencer Stuart and Associates to begin the hunt for a new chief executive following the abrupt resignation of Hugh Marks.

Mr Marks unexpectedly announced plans to leave the $4 billion broadcast, publishing and digital company a fortnight ago after five years in the top job, a decision he said was largely due to a relationship with former direct report Alexi Baker. The company said at the time it would conduct an internal and external search to find his replacement.

The official search for Hugh Marks' replacement has commenced.
The official search for Hugh Marks’ replacement has commenced.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Industry sources with knowledge of the hiring process said Nine had selected the local arm of Spencer Stuart in the last week and that it had already started making calls to potential candidates. Nine is the owner of the The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

A Nine spokeswoman declined to confirm the appointment, but said in a statement the board and management would not comment on speculation around the candidates for its business. “There is an appropriate process underway and we continue to focus on our work for Nine and our people,” the spokeswoman said.


Spencer Stuart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several internal candidates have put their hands up for the job but the CEO of streaming service Stan, Mike Sneesby, and Nine’s chief publishing and digital officer Chris Janz are considered the strongest contenders.

Former Nine managing director and current Foxtel executive Amanda Laing, former SBS chief Michael Ebeid and FetchTV boss Scott Lorson have all been mentioned as possible external candidates for the role.

The resignation of Mr Marks and the process to find a replacement has exposed tensions on Nine’s board, which is made up of three directors from Nine’s legacy television business and three from publishing company Fairfax Media, with which it merged in 2018.

The Nine directors are chairman Peter Costello, Samantha Lewis and Catherine West; the ex-Fairfax directors are deputy chairman Nick Falloon, Patrick Allaway and Mickie Rosen.

Nine's board of directors will make a decision on who to appoint as the new chief executive.
Nine’s board of directors will make a decision on who to appoint as the new chief executive.Credit:Peter Braig

Mr Marks’ announcement surprised and disappointed shareholders because it followed one of the best performing weeks for Nine on the ASX since the Fairfax deal in 2018.

Shareholders including Martin Currie and Wavestone Capital said it was more important that the next CEO has digital expertise rather than a track record in media or advertising.

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