28 Sep 2009

Factions seek control of Fairfax board

7:15 am on 28 September 2009

There is blood in the boardroom of Fairfax Media, the oldest media company in Australia, as competing factions vie for control of the board.

Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent reports Fairfax Media seems better at making news these days than covering it.

For the past weeks, the Fairfax board has been at loggerheads over the future of chairman Ron Walker.

Mr Walker is at war with John B Fairfax, who controls a 10% stake in the company through his private company, Marinya Media. Mr Fairfax is also a member of the family that founded the company nearly 170 years ago.

Marinya has criticised Walker's legacy at the group, whose share price has lost 70% in two years.

Mr Walker claims Marinya failed to disclose a $A170 million margin loan and is seeking control of Fairfax without paying a premium to shareholders.

After earlier indicating, he would seek re-election at November's annual general meeting, Mr Walker is now indicating he will step down.

But even if he does, Radio New Zealand's correspondent says there's no consensus on who will replace him as chairman.