The shake-up at Dow Jones & Company moved to Hong Kong yesterday after chief executive Lex Fenwick fired Christine Brendle, the firm's Asia-Pacific managing director and publisher at Wall Street Journal Asia.
Fenwick, former chief executive at Bloomberg, has swiftly revamped operations at Dow Jones, replacing several executives there, and ushering in his hand-picked managers and new recruits since joining the News Corp subsidiary in February.
Brendle was the first senior manager from Dow Jones in Asia to be removed by Fenwick, following executive changes announced by its New York headquarters in June, according to a person familiar with the matter.
An internal memo simply signed "Lex" that was obtained by the South China Morning Post, said Brendle "has stepped down from her post". The memo said a new publisher would be named shortly.
A Dow Jones Asia-Pacific spokesman confirmed the departure of Brendle who joined Dow Jones in 2006 after a 17-year career with the Hachette Filipacchi publishing group.
All senior managers in the region are to report directly to Fenwick and others at the company's New York headquarters.
The source said Brendle's firing will add more uncertainty to the Wall Street Journal's Asia edition. Introduced in 1976 it has struggled since the dotcom crash in 2000. Under Brendle, the regional paper's revenue has risen steadily. She also built up its television and digital operations.
According to a Reuters profile last month, Fenwick has been called a master salesman and business builder whose hard-charging style often runs roughshod over colleagues and subordinates. His makeover of Dow Jones comes at a crucial time for Rupert Murdoch's media empire as News Corp prepares to split off its global publishing assets from its entertainment businesses.
It also cited analysts as saying that Murdoch needs Fenwick's shock treatment to succeed so that Dow Jones, with about US$2 billion in annual revenue, can be the growth engine for the new publishing company.
Fenwick reportedly wants to change the way Dow Jones markets its news and information to financial institutions by launching a new web-based platform this year, with an eye to seize market share from Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and others.