Avanti Screenmedia Makes Major Changes

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

It’s been a long time coming but finally Neo have exerted their authority at Avanti Screenmedia and all involved have agreed to a number of executive management and board changes.

Effective 4th June 2009, out goes Mick Desmond as Non Executive Chairman and his fellow Non Executive Director Richard Vos (who will both resign from the board) and out goes Simon Rees as Chief Executive.

In comes Christian Vaglio-Giors, currently CEO and Chairman of Neo Media Group SA who will join Avanti’s Board as Non Executive Chairman.

Congratulations must go to Jamie Ball, well known and well liked in the media buying space who has been promoted to the position of Managing Director.

The one strange announcement was that Gary Truman, Finance Director has moved up to the role of Group CFO.

Simon Rees came on board, what 2 years ago and was handed something of a poisoned chalice from David Williams who preceded to demerge Avanti Screenmedia from Avanti Communications (the satellite business). Avanti should have gone to the wall a few times since then but with a combination of good management and then the luck-of-the-gods when Neo Media Group invested at the last minute to save the business going under it is still here.

The record will show that Simon oversaw a business with a share price of 12p shrink to less than 2p during his tenure and with massive dilution to boot BUT his achievement is a 30% growth in advertising revenue in a market that has fallen 20% and a business that is, well still very much in business.

Days before Neo Media Group invested in Avanti (back in July 2008) it was likely that Vision Media Group would have bought Avanti’s Shopping Mall business. It would have been interesting to see how well that would have fared (we thought ‘well’ at the time but were probably wrong) and one of Simon’s other major achievements (along with Gary) may well have been taking the harder decision to accept investment from Neo and ultimately be subsumed by the Neo collective.

Neo Media Group probably have a lot to thank Simon for.

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