Fallon returns from South Africa to Independent role

Fallon:"potential for Independent is terrific"

Former Sunday Times deputy editor Ivan Fallon will take over Independent News & Media’s national newspapers and the rest of its UK division on 1 September.

His wife, Elizabeth Rees-Jones, who is managing director of Conde Nast in South Africa, is to follow at the end of the year.

Fallon will replace Brendan Hopkins, who is moving to Australia where he has been appointed chief executive of APN News & Media, Australia’s fourth largest media group.

Fallon will be chief executive of the INM UK group, encompassing The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, the Belfast Telegraph group and magazine, regional newspaper and exhibitions businesses. He is also to be responsible for the company’s investments in Portugal.

Hopkins was said by Sir Anthony O’Reilly, INM’s executive chairman, to have "done superbly in the ferociously competitive UK market".

It is that market, with both Independents losing sales, despite a relaunch and a price cut for the daily this year, that awaits Fallon.

He is nevertheless "full of excitement" about his new job.

"I would much prefer to come in at the bottom of this very long advertising cycle than at the top and I do believe we are close to the bottom and that times will be a bit better," he told Press Gazette. "I think the potential for The Independent is terrific. It has a very good editor in Simon Kelner. I like him very much."

Fallon started in journalism on the Irish Times and worked on the Daily Mirror, The Sunday Telegraph (twice) and the Sunday Express before joining The Sunday Times in 1984.

He is already familiar with INM UK’s Marsh Wall HQ in London’s Docklands. As non-executive chairman of the iTouch company, which had its offices there, he spent a lot of time in the building renewing acquaintance with former colleagues such as Independent deputy editor Ian Birrell and staffers John Walsh, Barrie Clement and Hamish MacRae. And he plays tennis with Ed Curran, editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

Sir Anthony said: "Ivan’s return to London after eight years brings his singular editorial and management experience to a team which has proven itself through circulation battles, price wars and a tough advertising environment."

Fallon went to South Africa just at the time when the country was emerging from apartheid and in a year had helped launch a business newspaper, Business Report, and The Sunday Independent. This year, he oversaw the launch of Zulu newspaper Isolezwe. He wrote a book on Sir Anthony before joining his company.

Hopkins will be responsible for APN’s expanding interests in newspapers, radio and outdoor advertising in Australasia and the Far East.

By Jean Morgan

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