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INL replaces long-time leader

Friday 15th December 2000

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Mike Robson
By Michele Simpson

INL chief operating officer Rick Neville is likely to stay managing director permanently following the sudden death of Mike Robson this week. Mr Neville was appointed acting managing director after Mr Robson's death.

Media analysts said it was an obvious progression for Mr Neville who earns $500,000 as a paid executive director on the board and chief operating officer. He joined the company in 1976.

Media shares offshore are currently under siege, leading analysts to take a sceptical view over whether News Corporation will exercise its 49.3% stake in the company and bring in a media heavyweight to take over Mr Robson's job - a position he held for 16 years.

In a rare indepth interview a year ago Mr Robson told The National Business Review INL was a company he had built to last.

He had risen through the ranks as a journalist to managing director but remained relatively publicity-shy, despite being head of the country's biggest media organisation. He was reluctant to splurge a lot of cash on the dotcom phenomenon, saying internet was just a "packaging mechanism" for news. But the 61-year-old was at the forefront of the company's foray into new media launch this year with stuff.co.nz.

Analysts suggested there would not be much movement in INL's share price following Mr Robson's death as Mr Neville's appointment was expected. INL shares were trading at a 12-month high of $4.40 in mid-August and were steady around $3.40 this week..

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