Barbara Chapman has been named new chair of media company NZME after Peter Cullinane stepped down last week when he lost support of some Australian fund managers.

Chapman, a former chief executive and managing director of ASB Bank, has been a director of NZME since April 2018.

NZME is the owner of the NZ Herald and radio stations including Newstalk ZB.

She also chairs Genesis Energy and is an independent director of Fletcher Building and insurance company IAG New Zealand. She will resign from the board of IAG effective June 30 to enable her more time to focus on her new role, NZME said in a statement.


"Media is an incredibly vibrant industry in New Zealand and NZME is at the very heart of that industry," Chapman said.

"I'm honoured to be able to play a role helping ensure NZME's businesses and the wider industry have a thriving and sustainable future supporting New Zealand communities."

Chapman served as CEO and managing director of ASB from 2011 until February 2018. During her career she has held a number of senior and executive roles in retail banking, marketing, communications, human resources and life insurance.

Her other current roles include deputy chair of The New Zealand Initiative, Patron of the New Zealand Rainbow Tick Excellence Awards, and chair of the CEO Summit Committee for APEC 2021. She also holds seats on the Reserve Bank Act Review Panel and the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council.

"Barbara is passionate about building shareholder value through people and culture, and promoting best practice in community, governance and sustainability," NZME said.

Chapman will chair NZME at a challenging time for media companies amid declining advertising revenue further impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

NZME recently made more than 200 positions redundant, representing about 15 per cent of its workforce, and all remaining employees were asked to accept a voluntary 15 per cent pay cut for 12 weeks.

Last week the company told shareholders that it was impossible to predict with any accuracy the impact of the pandemic on NZME's full-year financial performance.


However, it expected first half 2020 operating Ebitda, including the wage subsidy, to be higher than that achieved in the first half of 2019.

Chief executive Michael Boggs said there had been some improvement to advertising levels since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased and then lifted.

Cullinane resigned abruptly ahead of the annual shareholders' meeting last Thursday. He had been up for re-election but said he found out he didn't have the voting support of significant Australian fund managers who were aggrieved about NZME's depressed share price.

"On that basis I felt it appropriate that I step down."

Cullinane was appointed chair in late 2017 and helped guide the business through periods of significant change.