Murdoch Moves On Oz Rival Fairfax

20 October 2006

SYDNEY: Australia has experienced several Gold Rushes, the first in 1851. The most recent seam of pay-dirt was struck earlier this year when the government moved to liberalise the nation's media ownership laws. At which point a grizzled prospector, known as Rupert Murdoch, staked his claim.

Or, in more prosaic terms, instructed stockbroker JB Were Goldman Sachs to buy shares in John Fairfax Holdings, one of Australia's largest newspaper groups and publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Murdoch, via holding company News Corporation, made his move several hours after the close of stock market trading, snatching a strategic stake equivalent to 7.5% of Fairfax's issued shares - valued at around A$364 million ($276.13m; €219.25m; £147.19m).

According to NewsCorp spokesman Andrew Butcher, Murdoch's stake was "merely an investment and it is entirely friendly to the existing board".

But some observers recall the gold-digger's own words: "The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow."

Data sourced from The New Zealand Herald; additional content by WARC staff