Fairfax Gains on Report Billionaire Rinehart Considering Bid

Fairfax Media Ltd., Australia’s second-largest newspaper publisher, rose after the Australian newspaper reported billionaire Gina Rinehart may be considering a takeover offer.

Shares in the company closed 1.7 percent higher in Sydney to close at 92.5 Australian cents, extending a winning streak to four sessions, the longest since May 29. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished the day 0.2% higher.

Rinehart is Fairfax’s largest shareholder, with her Hancock Prospecting Pty. holding a 14.99% stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The billionaire has clashed with management amid declining newspaper circulation and failed to get a seat on the board for herself after refusing to sign Fairfax’s Charter of Editorial Independence.

“She has to get a fair few of her ducks in line before she’ll actually do it,” Evan Lucas, a Melbourne-based markets strategist at IG Ltd., said by telephone. “They’ve got very, very big legacy issues hanging over their business.”

Fairfax reported first-half net income of A$193.8 million in February, down 50 percent from a year earlier.

Rinehart has approached business associates for suggestions on who could better manage or sit on the board in the event she decided to make a takeover bid, the Australian reported today, without saying where it obtained the information.

Jason Morrison, a Sydney-based spokesman for Hancock, declined to comment on the Australian report.

Rinehart is Australia’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with her net worth of $15.7 billion increasing by about $499 million this year -- about 24 percent of Fairfax’s market capitalization.

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