Mr Parsons previously spent a decade at Nine in a wide variety of senior roles, including as chief executive of RateCity, managing director of Nine Digital and as a director of PedestrianTV and CarAdvice.
Nine shares rose 5.8 per cent to $1.38 on Monday. However, the share price has been under pressure since the merger completed.
“We would like to thank Martin for the hard work and commitment he has shown to the business and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” Nine managing director of publishing Chris Janz said.
The Australian Financial Review revealed last August the events business was one of the divisions up for sale. The Financial Review is owned by Nine following the completion of its merger with Fairfax.
Sources said nine parties had expressed an interest in the events business. IMG, Saxton – which counts former APN News & Media chief executive Brett Chenoweth and former PBL Media financier Charbel Nader as investors – and Denver-based Motiv are understood to be three of the interested parties.
The Nine events division has been valued by Macquarie’s equities research team at about $60 million, or six times estimated 2018-19 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Before the merger with Nine, Fairfax did not break out the events division’s performance in its accounts and it sat in Metro Media with the main publishing brands.
Any buyer of the events business would retain a commercial and marketing relationship with Nine as part of the deal, giving a party an opportunity to take advantage of the range of television, print and radio assets of the newly merged business.
Depending on the buyer, events such as the AFR Policy Series could remain with Nine as the editorial team at the Financial Review is so heavily involved in the content produced, such as hosting panels and writing coverage. However, events such as The Night Noodle Markets, Open Air Cinemas and City2Surf could be sold and still benefit from a marketing relationship as the editorial input is minimal.
The events unit was for several years, until early 2017, run by former tourism Australia boss Andrew McEvoy, who had a stint as managing director of Life Media and Events before his abrupt departure.
Nine’s merger with Fairfax and the new business has already upped its annual cost savings target from the deal to from $50 million to $65 million. Of the new total, $35 million has been realised and $50 million is expected to be reached by the end of 2018-19.
The merger also brought 100 per cent of Stan under the ownership of one business and the local subscription video on-demand service was quick to jump on an opportunity to sign a licensing agreement with Disney. The deal gave Stan access to the media giant’s library, including Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney content, ahead of the Christmas and summer break, a traditionally strong subscriber growth period for the service.