Rinehart says “I’ll sell”

Staff Writer

It has been the most tumultous few months in Fairfax Media's long history, and shows no signs of settling down.

Following a week when the company announced massive, and highly significant, structural changes to the newspaper division, Gina Rinehart has again taken an aggressive public position regarding Fairfax.

Rinehart is the single biggest shareholder with nearly 19% held through her private company, Hancock Prospecting. 

However, at this stage, the board seats that she has demanded remain unforthcoming. Some reports say that she has increased her requirement from two board seats to three, on the eight-member board, including the role of deputy chairman.

Now, Rinehart has issued an ultimatum to Fairfax saying that she may exit her shareholding in Fairfax if suitable conditions are not met. In an open letter to ABC TV, on Hancock Prospecting letterhead, RInehart has said that her interest is in saving Fairfax;

"Fairfax share price has also declined significantly, some approximately 90 per cent, HPPL had hoped that Mrs Rinehart may be viewed by the (Fairfax) Board as a successful business person and a necessary "white knight" with mutual interest in a sustainable Fairfax."

One of the sticking points for the Fairfax board is that Rinehart is believed to be seeking the right to make editorial decisions, including on the appointment and removal of editors. Her letter went on to say that she required the directorship to be offered "without unsuitable conditions" saying; 

"HPPL may hence sell its interest, and may consider repurchasing at some other time"

Rinehart went on to express her views on the reporting of climate change in the media. ''She remains concerned by the lack of understanding in the media on this issue,'' it said.

'To lessen the fear the media have caused over these issues, Mrs Rinehart suggests that the media should also permit to be published that climate change has been occurring naturally since the earth began, not just the views of the climate extremists".

"It is a fact that there have been ice ages, then periods of global warming to end the ice ages, and these have occurred naturally, including due to the earth's orbit, and not due to mankind at all.''

The letter praised climate sceptic Ian Plimer and TEN broadcaster and News Limited journalist, Andrew Bolt for standing up against the 'tidal wave' of attacks from the media and extremists. 

The Fairfax board are in a challenging position.

Give Rinehart the board seats she wants and accept whatever consequences flow from that (good or bad), or risk her offloading her 19% shareholding therefore placing massive downwards pressure on an already soft share price.

There remains a rocky road ahead for Fairfax Media.

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