Fairfax staff meet over Drive merger

Fairfax Media editorial teams held meetings yesterday to discuss implications of the merger between Fairfax’s Drive.com.au and online automotive business 112 Pty Ltd.

Fairfax announced the formation of the 50:50 joint venture on Tuesday that will see Fairfax licence its Drive Brand and URL to 112, the operator of themotorreport.com.au, an online resource for new car buyers.

112 will operate both Drive and themotorreport.com.au, with Fairfax to continue publishing the print Drive section in its mastheads. Content, however, will be supplied by the joint venture. This is understood to have led to concerns among staff over the continuation of editorial independence, a long-standing policy supported by Fairfax management.

Around six Fairfax editorial staff are expected to be affected by the change and are believed to be in consultations with management.

Former Tyresales chief executive Anthony Pettiona has been named CEO of the joint venture.

“The aim of the joint venture is to strengthen and maintain Drive.com.au’s position as Australia’s premier trusted automotive editorial brand, and use that as a launch platform to create Australia’s premium destination for new car buyers,” he said.

“We will also continue to develop and strengthen themotorreport.com.au’s new car offerings, with a core focus on growing the online new car market as a whole.”

The team’s director Shane Pettiona said the vast readership of Drive would provide an opportunity to evolve the drive.com.au platform and develop market-leading new car consumer products.

“We will be dedicated to becoming the number one destination for consumers looking to research, compare and save on their next new car,” he said.

“This joint venture with Fairfax Media, in strengthening the editorial power and reach of Drive.com.au, as well as strengthening themotorreport.com.au, and in leveraging the commercial synergies across both sites, makes the JV among Australia’s most potent and largest automotive editorial and new car buyer destinations.”

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