Rinehart threatens to dump Fairfax

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has threatened to dump her stake in Fairfax Media if “unsuitable conditions” over non-involvement in the company’s editorial direction are not removed. Rinehart now owns nearly 20% of the company and is seeking seats on the board. If she suddenly sold her stock, it would be likely to put Fairfax’s share price – which is already trading close to an all time low – in a further plunge downwards.

Update: Shortly after opening today, Fairfax shares dropped to 53c, the lowest in the company’s history.

(Note: This story originally stated that Rinehart had increased her stake in Ten. In fact, today’s update to the ASX confirmed her increased stake as a result of the company’s fund raising.)

Fairfax’s key mastheads include the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Until now, Rinehart has said almost nothing about her intentions although it has been widely speculated that she wants a platform to promote a pro-mining, anti-tax, climate change-sceptic agenda. She sent some written answers to the ABC’s Four Corners, which aired them last night.

She threatened that her company Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd may sell.

The questions:

You have currently acquired a significant amount of shares in Fairfax Media, what do you hope to achieve with this investment? Do you believe the size of your shareholding should entitle you to one or two positions on the Fairfax board in the near future?

Fairfax’s largest three mast heads have been declining in circulation for five years, a long time. Fairfax’s share price has also declined significantly, some approximately 90%.

HPPL had hoped that Mrs Rinehart may be viewed by the Board as a successful business person and a necessary “white knight” with mutual interest in a sustainable Fairfax, however unless director positions are offered without unsuitable conditions, Mrs Rinehart is unable to assist Fairfax at this time.

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

There has been much speculation in the media about your role in hiring Andrew Bolt after you bought into Channel 10. Did you ask Lachlan Murdoch and or James Packer to hire Mr Bolt? If so, why?

Andrew Bolt has a short programme on Channel 10 on Sundays. It is noted that his programme is very popular in country areas, yet unfortunately many country areas are unable to receive Channel 10. As stated previously by Mrs Rinehart, Mrs Rinehart hopes that should Mr Bolt’s time permit, that he would consider longer programmes on Channel 10.

Did you consider that your pursuit of a subpoena against the West Australian newspaper and its reporter Steve Pennells over his reports on the litigation in NSW would cause concerns for reporters and news editors at Fairfax and Channel 10?

Some media has run with such suggestions, however it is important to note that the newspaper concerned with the subpoena had already repeatedly published the name of its source, so this is not an attempt to get a journalist to reveal their sacred source, despite some media’s incorrect suggestions.

You have clear views on the climate change debate and have helped to fund speaking tours by prominent figures like Professor Ian Plimer who is critical of much of the current climate science coming out of the universities. Can you indicate how much you donate to organisations and individuals that are challenging the mainstream climate scientists? Did you donate to political and community organisations lobbying to block the introduction of the carbon tax last year?

Mrs Rinehart remains concerned that imposing the world’s highest carbon tax will impact Australians negatively. Imposing such a high carbon tax will add to Australia’s high costs, not only for businesses already facing problems with cost competitiveness, but also for Australians. She remains concerned by the lack of understanding in the media on this issue. 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, for thousands of years, and these have occurred naturally, including due to the earth’s orbit, and not due to mankind at all.

Mrs Rinehart points out that some people received notoriety claiming only a few decades ago that the earth was about to enter an ice age and understands some of those same people are now claiming, global warming instead.

Mrs Rinehart admires people like Ian Plimer who have independently chosen on their own accord to stand up against this tidal wave, which has caused fear, and despite substantial attacks by some of the media and extremists for so doing. It is noted Professor Plimer had his own views on climate change long before he knew Mrs Rinehart and had given many such informative speaking tours prior to meeting Mrs Rinehart.


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