Kevin Slaven to leave Ovato as company’s A/NZ retail distribution businesses prepare to be sold to Are Media

Ovato has announced CEO Kevin Slaven will not be renewing his contract at the diversified print and marketing company with James Hannan, the current Chief Operating Officer, to take on the top job effective immediately.

In a letter issued to the Australian Securities Exchange, Ovato said Slaven is not seeking an extension to his current contract which is due to expire on September 17, 2021.

Incoming Ovato CEO James Hannan

The same letter also outlined a plan to sell Ovato’s retail distribution businesses in A/NZ to Are Media for a headline purchase price of $15 million and the acceptance of a negative working capital position of approximately $27 million.

Shareholders are expected to vote on the sale in mid-July. The Hannan family holds 43.4 per cent share in Ovato and has indicated it intends to vote in favour of the transaction.

Plans are also afoot to sell Ovato Creative Services, Ovato Technology, Ovato Communications and Ovato Creative Services Clayton for $9 million to a company called Ballygriffin Holdings, which is owned by the Hannan family.

Slaven moving on

Slaven took on the role of CEO of Ovato in 2017 when the Hannan family’s IPMG merged with PMP, of which Slaven was the CEO.

During this period he was responsible for integrating the two significant businesses and then last year oversaw a NSW Supreme Court-approved Scheme of Arrangement which allowed the business to undertake a complex restructure.

Slaven will remain with Ovato until June 30 to assist with the transition as it finalises the sale of its retail distribution businesses in Australia and New Zealand to magazine publishers, Are Media.

Are Media were also involved in the recapitalisation and restructuring scheme with the magazine publisher, which uses Ovato’s services for print and distribution, contributing $10 million to the business last year. The Hannan family supplied a further $25 million. Are Media currently has a 16.4 per cent stake in Ovato.

Ovato chairman Michael Hannan has wished Slaven well with his future endeavours.

“The Board recognises the role that Kevin has played in a very difficult period for the company since being asked to take the reigns unexpectedly in late 2017. He has addressed the challenges completing a very complex merger of two of Australia’s largest print businesses; IPMG with PMP, followed by a significant operational and corporate restructure to right size the business required by market conditions and the COVID-19 impacts,” Michael Hannan said in the letter to the ASX.

“The board wishes to thank Kevin for his guidance and leadership through this difficult period, and for his loyalty and dedication to the company. We wish Kevin well for his future endeavours.”

Slaven is a current member of the Executive Board, and former chairman, of industry association, The Real Media Collective.

The Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood offered her best wishes to Slaven and thanked him for his guidance over the years. She also welcomed James Hannan into his new role at Ovato.

Ovato CEO Kevin Slaven, TRMC CEO Kellie Northwood and IVE Group CEO Matt Aitken at a TRMC get together in 2019

“Kevin has been a long-serving TRMC Board member with Executive Officer appointments across Chair, Deputy Chair and Treasurer over the past four years,” Northwood said.

“Across two of those years Kevin was the ACA Chairman overseeing the merger of the Australasian Catalogue Association, Two Sides Australia and secretariat of the Australasian Paper Industry Association into The Real Media Collective. A significant step forward for the industry association.

“For me personally, Kevin has been an exceptional visionary to work under, guiding a solution and forward-thinking focus for members and the wider industry across TRMC’s charter in recent years. All while being a firm and unapologetic ambassador of a united industry body working in partnership with suppliers, producers and customers collectively.

“I wish Kevin all the very best into the next chapter in his journey and thank him sincerely for his support of TRMC, the team and I, over the years. We know and welcome James Hannan to the role as incoming Chief Executive Officer and look forward to a continued relationship with Ovato and the team.”

Northwood said TRMC is due to have its AGM in July and a Executive Officer replacement will be announced in due course.

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