Changes at the top of major shareholder Kistefos are believed to be behind a management shake-up at newspaper systems developer Atex.
Four newcomers have been appointed to top positions: Gary Stokes, formerly chief executive of UK phone handset repair company Regenersys replaces Jim Rose, who has served just 18 months in the top job after six years as a non-executive director.
Jeremy Wilson, who was group financial director of Regenersys until March, joins as Atex chief financial officer, with management consultant Colin Ashworth as chief commercial officer.
A new HR chief has also been appointed.
The shake-up was quietly disclosed as the Atex Talking Points user event in Windsor, UK, last week, providing Rose with the opportunity to make his farewells to customers.
While Rose was a US national with dual UK citizenship and a CV which includes time as chairman of Dallas, Texas, marketing services company Mosaic, the new appointees are UK-based.
Stokes (pictured) is described as “a strong, hands-on leader” with more than 20 years experience in chief executive and chief financial officer positions “in the most challenging situations” and extensive merger and acquisition experience. His LinkedIn profile says he is a change leader specialising in complex restructuring programmes and turnarounds.
He left Regenersys in March last year after a shake-up in which three of the company’s directors resigned. Wilson ceased to be a director in March this year.
Norwegian investment company Kistefos – established from a pulp mill business which has been retained as a museum – has been a shareholder in Atex since 1996. It is one ten direct investments, half in IT, of the shipping and venture capital business owned outright by 56-year-old Christen Sveaas.
Atex’s US$95 million revenue (2010) forms a small part of the group’s turnover which – despite falling by more than half in 2010, still amounted to NOK7.9 billion (A$1.3 billion). It made profits of NOK234 million (A$38 million), according to the company’s website.
Last October Henning Jensen took over as managing director, succeeding Åge Korsvold.
One issue Stokes’ team may have to address is the position in Australia, where a development cell has been retained following its indirect acquisition of Cybergraphic.
Atex lost its biggest editorial systems customer in Australia to Eidos Media when News Limited announced an order with Eidos Media in mid May. Eidos has a team on site in Sydney, working to achieve the aggressive rollout programme sought for its cross-platform Méthode product across the group by chief executive Kim Williams.
Other major users of the locally-developed Atex Genera editorial product include Fairfax Media, APN and the ‘Otago Daily Times’. Fairfax NZ lost editions last August following a back-up glitch related to its Genera systems.
• In a statement late on Thursday, Atex said the appointment of the new group CEO would strengthen the ongoing leadership and development of the business and support its accelerated growth into the digital marketplace.
Gary Stokes, who joins the company with immediate effect, "has considerable experience gained in complex international and service-based B2B businesses.
"With a background in finance, he has led both quoted and privately owned businesses and has a track record in delivering performance and value enhancement for the long term benefit of customers, staff and stakeholders."
He thanked Jim Rose "for his dedication and key contributions to Atex during the company’s global expansion" and wished him well in future endeavours.
Says Stokes, "I’m privileged to be joining Atex, a leading global software company, alongside some of the best people in the industry. We have strong growth plans for our outstanding products, which we are delivering to newspapers, magazines and broadcasters, as well as pure play digital media and online gaming channels”.