Australia’s richest woman, iron ore billionaire Gina Rinehart, has once again shocked the business world by reportedly spending about $50 million to buy a 2% stake in Fairfax Media.
The purchase comes just weeks after Rinehart spent about $170 million to grab a 10% slice of Ten Network, investing alongside fellow billionaires James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon.
But the investment also comes during a period of turmoil at Fairfax, which on Monday announced the shock and immediate resignation of chief executive Brian McCarthy. The company, which has been lashed over McCarthy’s strategy in recent weeks, is now undertaking a “global search” for a new chief with director Greg Hywood now in an acting capacity.
Rinehart is yet to comment on her new investment – which was apparently arranged through stockbroking house Morgan Stanley Smith Barney – and has not made a public statement since buying into Ten Holdings.
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The only comment released by Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, was a brief two-line statement which seemed to suggest Rinehart would like to take a more agenda-setting role in Australian business life.
”Our company group is interested in making an investment towards the media business given its importance to the nation’s future and has selected Ten Network for this investment.”
If Rinehart remains at 2%, she will be well below the 5% substantial shareholder threshold, which would require her to report any share purchases or disposals to the Australian Securities Exchange.
And unlike her stake in Ten Network, her small holding in Fairfax would not entitle her to push for a board position.
Ten announced on November 26 that Rinehart would join its board following the company’s annual general meeting on December 9.
However, reports suggest Rinehart will not attend the meeting due to previous commitments.