Montgomery's Methods Spark Mutiny at Dutch Newspaper Group

01 July 2008

APPELDOORN, Netherlands: David Montgomery (pictured), former ceo of Britain's Mirror Group Newspapers, was not known for courting popularity among his staff. Little has changed since he founded Mecom in March 2005 with £48 million in private equity funding.

Since when Mecom has grown via a string of acquisitions, mainly in continental Europe, the most recent of which (in October 2007) is the Wegener Group, a Netherlands-based publisher of regional dailies and free newspapers. 

Yet again, Montgomery finds himself at odds with colleagues and employees, culminating in the resignation of Wegener's supervisory board – including chairman Han Noten – in protest at the melding of three divisions with the loss of some 400 jobs, equating to 10% of the workforce.

Last week the editors of all seven regional papers in the Wegener group wrote to Montgomery urging him to rethink the merger plan.

"Since Mecom's acquisition of our company," they wrote, "we have been confronted with financial short-term policy.

"Market vision has hardly been implemented and there has been a complete lack of clarity regarding leadership and direction for many months now." 

The three-strong supervisory board is appointed by shareholders, an all-but-defunct species given that Mecom now holds 87% of Wegener's stock.

In the UK and Germany, Mecom has been publicly criticized for "short-term investment, unrealistic demand, heavy cost cuts and little respect for editorial values and quality".

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff