Hugh Marks has quit PICTURE: Adam Yip
Hugh Marks has quit PICTURE: Adam Yip

Hugh Marks quits as Channel Nine boss

Powerful Nine CEO Hugh Marks will step down from his role as head of the $4 billion media company after being forced to confirm his relationship with a junior female executive.

The executive who presided over the merger of television company Nine Network with publishing house Fairfax Media in 2018 was called to an extraordinary meeting with Nine's board via online hook-up on Saturday to address his relationship with recently departed Nine director of commercial Alexi Baker.

"After five successful years for Nine, I have decided the time is right for me begin the process of moving on," he said in an internal memo to staff.

"An announcement to this effect will be made to the market on Monday and we will then commence a formal process for both internal and external candidates for my replacement. And of course, I will be around to ensure a smooth transition as the business embarks on its next stage of growth."

Hugh Marks has quit PICTURE: Adam Yip
Hugh Marks has quit PICTURE: Adam Yip

It's understood the relationship with the Nine board became strained after the revelations of the personal relationship.

Marks is expected to take six months to transition out of the business.

Baker, who started at Nine in 2011, stepped down from her post last month after enjoying a meteoric rise within the company under Marks who was appointed CEO of the Nine Network in November 2015.

The former Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse analyst was at Marks' side during the merger with Fairfax and has also played a pivotal role in decisions to dump the sporting rights to cricket over tennis and fully acquire Macquarie Radio.

She and the recently separated Marks embarked on a relationship which has been an open secret at Nine for months though Marks yesterday said it was still in its "early days" and was born of "the lonely time" presented by COVID-19 isolation.

"Coming out of COVID... people were coming back into the office. I guess I just started to think about what might be the next stage for me personally on many fronts," the CEO told a Nine broadsheet.

"Everyone wants to be happy. People think you should be superhuman in these roles but you are still just a person."

He denied he and Baker had breached any company policies.

Marks' departure comes two days after Nine's chairman Peter Costello fronted shareholders at Nine's AGM on Thursday where he was forced to publicly acknowledge - for the first time - photographs published by this newspaper in May showing Marks picnicking in a Mosman park with another female staffer, on that occasion his executive assistant Jane Routledge.

Originally published as Hugh Marks quits as Channel Nine boss