Cool, Calm Carnegie keeps MRN, Fairfax merger dream alive | radioinfo

Cool, Calm Carnegie keeps MRN, Fairfax merger dream alive

Tuesday 18 March, 2014

Media investor and significant shareholder in the Macquarie Radio Network Mark Carnegie (pictured) was interviewed on The Perrett Report on Sky Business last night to provide some insight into the current state of the long running merger discussions between his organisation and Fairfax Radio.

Although Mr Carnegie accused Fairfax of a dummy spit for bringing talks to a halt, he also praised their Head of Strategy who “came up with a very, very sensible deal that worked for all parties.” He made it clear that he was still keen to take that deal if talks could be revived.

Here’s part of that interview starting with his response to presenter Janine Perrett’s effort to get him to disclose what MRN was planning for the future now that merger talks have stalled.
Carnegie: We’re very happy making 13 – 15 million dollars a year at the moment.

But it would be far better in combination with Fairfax. The fact that someone’s had a dummy spit …

Perrett: But you had one too. You walked out of the meeting.

Carnegie: Excuse me! Someone asked to seduce my wife!

Perrett: Really? I thought it was a media discussion. Getting past the dummy spit, where is the situation at the moment?

Carnegie: No talks. Everyone’s in a sulk. But still, there’s  50 – 60% increase in earnings [on offer] if those two businesses came together.

Perrett: You say they’re in a sulk… John Singleton made some pretty outrageous, provocative comments…

Carnegie: He was driven to it.

Perrett: That doesn’t help [if you want] to go back to the bargaining table. But you seem to be opening the door a little.

Carnegie: My door’s always open. They keep having a dummy spit and there’s $200 million in foregone synergies in the last decade lost by not having these two businesses together.

I’d be really upset if I was one of the shareholders of Fairfax. And that’s the reason why we ended up selling our shares.

Perrett: So despite calling the Chairman a “pretentious prick” and the CEO a “third rater,” are you saying that if they could get over that you wouldn’t mind still negotiating with them?

Carnegie: I said at the time, and I continue to say that before Christmas, their Head of Strategy came up with a very, very sensible deal that worked for all parties. Why somebody had a dummy spit and stopped that, I don’t know.

Mr Carnegie would not be drawn on whether he agreed with John Singleton and Gina Rinehart as to whether the road to a merger would be cleared if the Fairfax Chairman, Roger Corbett moved on. Instead he reaffirmed, “Would like to see the deal that was discussed by the head of strategy and me go ahead? Absolutely!”

Failing that, Ms Perrett asked whether MRN was still up for sale, "Shingle's still out?"   Mr Carnegie replied,  “Always!”

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