Singleton sells Fairfax shareholding

Staff Writer

In the clearest signal yet that a potential merger between Macquarie and Fairfax Radio is now officially dead, John Singleton and Mark Carnegie have sold their shareholding in Fairfax Media.

The two held a small parcel of of Fairfax shares (0.15%) which they acquired through their investment vehicle Gutenberg last year for 47cps.

The shareholding was sold on market at 94cps yesterday, giving them a profit of around $1.5m on the investment.

The sale follows an extraordinary and unprecedented war of words between Singleton and Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood this week, in which Singleton has referred to Fairfax as 'incompetent', 'duplicitous' and 'third rate wankers'.

He was joined in the attack by 2GB host Ray Hadley who described Fairfax Radio as being programmed by people who 'wouldn't know their arse from their elbow'.

See and hear Singletons comments here.

See and hear Hadleys comments here.

Fairfax responded by releasing a statement saying that Singleton was 'deluded' and that his comments were 'nonsense, and defamatory', referring to the Macquarie Radio Network as a 'highly volatile and emotional organisation'.

Singleton had been operating in tandem with Gina Rinehart, who holds 14.99% of Fairfax, with the two agreeing to consult on key matters affecting the company.

It is unclear if Singleton's decision to sell out of Fairfax will affect Rinehart's position; however she has been vocal, through her representative John Klepec, about her desire for a Fairfax/Macquarie merger to occur.

Klepec criticised Fairfax accusing them of moving "at glacial speed on key areas of revenue growth and value creative mergers that have synergies like the radio assets."

Last week both Macquarie and Fairfax released their half-yearly financials to the market.

  • The Macquarie Radio Network revealed weaker revenue, and weaker reported EBITDA performance.
  • The Fairfax Radio group saw steep declines in earnings (-9.2%) off the back of poor ratings on some of its radio stations; most notably 2UE which ended 2013 at record low levels.

The first ratings survey for the year will be released next week, with Fairfax Radio no doubt hoping for early indications that their 2014 relaunch of 2UE is on track. 

See the Macquarie report here.

See the Fairfax report here.

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