With “White Knights” Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Show Gina The Door.

Jun 26, 2012
Essential Research

The “I, Gina” show kicked into high gear last night. Now, her lordship is threatening–oh, please, wait while we cower–to walk away from Fairfax if she doesn’t get her way. It may be raining on some but Fairfax should see this as the sun shining through and bid her goodbye–and, if possible, add a swift kick in the backside on the way out.

The day dawns and bring us this news:

GINA RINEHART hopes to be a ”white knight” for Fairfax Media, but might sell her shareholding unless she is offered positions on the board without ”unsuitable conditions”.

The mining entrepreneur told the ABC’s Four Corners program, via her company Hancock Prospecting (HPPL), that she would be prepared to sell the 18.6 per cent chunk of the company’s stock that she holds and consider investing again if her demands were later met.

”Fairfax’s largest three mastheads [including the Herald] have been declining in circulation for five years, a long time,” Hancock Prospecting said. ”Fairfax’s share price has also declined … approximately 90 per cent.

”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,” the statement said. ”HPPL may hence sell its interest, and may consider repurchasing at some other time.” [emphasis added]

There is so much wrong with this story it’s hard to decide where to begin. First, can someone please point out, in the story, that a “white knight” does not include arriving on the scene and, as a first act, commence to soil  (this may still be a “family site” so just trying to be somewhat restrained) a fundamental principle of the business, in this case, editorial independence. Indeed, the Fairfax board is showing, so far, a modicum of spine on that principle, which, not withstanding the awful unconscionable cuts ordered even though the CEO and top management is not taking a hit, one has to give those folks credit for:

The Fairfax board has been resisting her push, and insisting she abides by the company’s Charter of Editorial Independence, which states that board members do not interfere with the content of the newspapers. Mrs Rinehart, reportedly, will not agree to that charter.

This being a family site, let us just say, mildly, Gina, go fuck yourself. There are some things that very rich people do not understand and that is principle. Principles that are stronger than (a) the whims of a rich person and (b) principles that are more important to society than the needs and ego of one person.

The Fairfax board should go further than simply resisting. End the charade. Tell the “I, Gina” show it’s not welcome in this town.


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