Fairfax war intensifies

The fight between Conrad Black, Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch for control of John Fairfax, the Australian newspaper publisher, was heightened last night after the company reported a surge in underlying profitability.

Despite reporting a small fall in post-tax profit for the six months to December from A$82m (£39m) to A$£81m, Fairfax's results show a 50 per cent rise after an abnormal tax benefit of A$28m, included in the 1993 figure, is excluded.

Fairfax is 24.9 per cent-owned by Mr Black's Telegraph group, while Mr Packer has increased his stake to 16.4 per cent.

In doing so, Mr Packer might have broken Australia's cross-media ownership rules that are meant to prevent television broadcasters from taking a controlling stakes in newspaper publishing businesses.

Australian law defines a controlling stake as owning more than 15 per cent of a company. However, the rules are unclear in that they allow the circumstances of ownership to be taken into account.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission is investigating Mr Packer's stake in Fairfax.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has also been purchasing shares in the company recently. Mr Murdoch has insisted that he has no long-term interest in the company and the stake is only an investment.

His holding is still less than 5 per cent, at which point he would have to disclose his interest in the company.

Mr Black is known to want to increase his stake to 35 per cent, but at present is prevented from doing so by rules that prevent foreigners taking more than 25 per cent of an Australian media company. Mr Black is a Canadian.

Fairfax publishes the Sydney Morning Herald, the Canberra Age and the Financial Review.

The company's improved performance was due to rising advertising revenues, a trend it expects to see continuing through the rest of the year.

Fairfax also anticipates savings from computerisation and commissioning of new equipment.

While the company has secured a fixed-price contract for the supply of news print for the rest of this year, next year's results are going to be hit by a 25 per cent rise in the price of news print costs, the company warned.

It hopes that these can be partially offset by reducing paper sizes and wastage.

Fairfax's turnover rose to A$479m, up from A$417m, a 15 per cent increase.

The company is paying an interim dividend of 3.5 cents, up from 2.5 cents in the first half last year.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

£300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style