New chief for Seven West as KKR exits
US private equity heavyweight Kohlberg Kravis Roberts sold its remaining $260 million stake in Seven West Media late on Tuesday, bringing to an end its six-year involvement in Australia's media sector.
The sale of the 12 per cent stake in Seven West Media took place just hours after Seven named broadcasting veteran Tim Worner to take over as chief executive from Don Voelte on July 1.
Mr Worner, who heads the group's market-leading television network, said cost-cutting would remain the priority at Australia's most successful media group, given the uncertain advertising outlook.
He said his challenge would be to maintain the cost-cutting program "while maintaining the quality of what we're doing".
Brokers Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs were placing KKR's Seven West shares to institutions at about $2.21 each, a discount to Tuesday's close of $2.28.
Seven is seeking to maintain its 40 per cent-plus share of the metro television ad market but Mr Worner indicated this did not mean the media group's content budget was sacrosanct.
"That budget is always subject to review ... I expect that's going to continue," he said in a conference call announcing his appointment.
Seven West executive chairman Kerry Stokes said Mr Voelte made it clear when appointed CEO nearly a year ago that his tenure was always going to be short, and the change was made at his recommendation.
"When Don joined us, he had a very specific brief to bring on the management ... over the last few months, he has indicated to the board he felt he has done as much as he can achieve," Mr Stokes said.
He praised the contribution made by Mr Voelte, former head of Woodside Petroleum, who was considered an unorthodox choice as a media executive.
"He has brought what I had hoped he would, which is a business discipline to a media outlet while still allowing us to be creative and achieve those things we set out to do," Mr Stokes said.
Mr Voelte will become deputy chairman after stepping down from his executive role.
Earlier this month, he announced further cost cuts and a new direction for the media group, moving it away from its reliance on advertising revenue towards a strategy to monetise its relationship with viewers and create new revenue streams from its content.
"He's the right man for the job," Mr Stokes said. "He is an outstanding executive and has played a key role in Seven's success.
"Tim's intimate knowledge of the creation of content provides him with the experience to ensure Seven West Media's continuing success as the company evolves, grows and meets the challenges of a changing consumer market."
Mr Worner's base salary will be $2.6 million. He could earn double that - up to $5.2 million in cash and shares each year - if he meets short- and long-term incentive targets.