Interview with Fairfax’s second biggest shareholder

Staff Writer

The Australian have published an interview with Dr. Simon Marais, of investment group Allan Gray.

Marais is the second biggest shareholder in Fairfax Media (10.42%) and has nearly 20% in APN News & Media.

He says: "People now expect almost nothing to go right for Fairfax. They have good assets all over the place. It's not just The Sydney Morning Herald. (Fairfax chief executive) Greg Hywood has done a lot to reduce debt and take out costs."

Dr. Marais would like to see Fairfax's 51% stake in TradeMe and its radio assets be sold after he recently bought more Fairfax shares.

"I think buying more shares is really a bet on saying things won't get a lot worse, simply because you've had a cyclical downturn in advertising, and you've had the cost-cutting they should have done years ago.

"This company is not losing money: it's still pouring out cash but less than it used to by some measure."

Dr Marais would consider a takeover approach: "The real risk is if someone comes and gives you 50c or 60c and the board accepts. It would be a classic thing to buy because there are so many parts to it. You could sell TradeMe, the radio and Rural Press assets and get your money back, and you end up with all the metro papers for free."

Read more in The Australian here

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