The board of Fairfax has held firm on its refusal to offer its biggest shareholder Gina Rinehart boardroom seats unless she commits to the company’s charter of editorial independence.
The statement from the board came after it this afternoon discussed whether to allow Rinehart – who owns nearly 20% of the company – to join.
Rinehart is widely believed to have made the investment in order to have a wider voice on issues such as carbon tax, taxation of the mining industry and climate change. In a statement released to the ABC this week, she threatened to sell her stake in the company unless she gets on the board.
Today’s statement from Fairfax:
“SYDNEY, 27 June 2012: Fairfax Media Limited [ASX:FXJ] today advised that it has been unable to extend an invitation to Mrs Gina Rinehart to join the board.
“Chairman Roger Corbett said that agreement had not been reached on terms acceptable to the company.
“Mr Corbett said: ‘I regret that agreement has not been reached for Mrs Rinehart to join the Fairfax Media board of directors. I hope that this might be possible in the future. However key elements yet to be agreed include acceptance of the charter of editorial independence as it stands and the Fairfax board governance principles as agreed by all existing directors.
“‘In coming to this view the board has gauged the opinion of other shareholders and noted some of their recent public comments on these matters, noting in particular they share the company’s view on maintaining editorial independence and their desire that board members act in the interests of all shareholders.
“‘The company has received tens of thousands of emails and other correspondence from shareholders, our readers and others making it clear that they support Fairfax’s long-standing position on editorial independence,’ Mr Corbett said.”
Fairfax is currently going through dramatic changes with a major restructure and a large number of redundancies planned. This week three of the company’s most senior editorial staff departed.